CDC: Underage drinking more dangerous than you realize - WFLA News Channel 8

CDC: Underage drinking more dangerous than you realize

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If the packed roads and packed beaches are any indication, its spring break.  But doctors and law enforcement officials say underage drinking should not be taken lightly.  Officials say it's a serious issue that could have dangerous consequences.  With schools on break, high school and college students are packing the beach at Siesta Key.

Patrons out here surely find ways to stay hydrated in the midst of all this fun and while NewsChannel 8 was at the beach, Sarasota county deputies busted an 18-year-old for underage drinking. They've already made 19 similar arrests in the past week.

"It's definitely an issue we focus on," said Captain Ron Locke with the Sarasota County Sheriff's Office. "With school being off, we take the resource deputies that are normally in schools, and we reassign them to do various activities that focus on underage drinking."

Deputies are actively patrolling the beaches and doing undercover work.  Locke said, "When their mind is affected further by alcohol, they make poor decisions and sometimes that will end up affecting them for the rest of their lives."  Dr. Joel Gerber from Sarasota Memorial Hospital sees underage drinkers regularly in the Emergency Room.

The CDC says alcohol is one of the most commonly abused drugs among youth, responsible for nearly 5,000 deaths a year.  Gerber says binge drinking is especially hazardous.  Drink too much booze too quickly, and you may not realize how much alcohol is being absorbed into your blood.

This could soon affect your heart rate, your breathing rate, or it could be even worse- he says you could choke to death on your own vomit.  Gerber said, "You get peak blood levels about 30 to 90 minutes after you ingest the alcohol, so if you're ingesting a large amount of alcohol in a short period of time, you're absorbing large amounts before you feel the effects of it."

The CDC also says underage drinking could lead to:

  • School problems, such as higher absence and poor or failing grades.
  • Social problems, such as fighting and lack of participation in youth activities.
  • Legal problems, such as arrest for driving or physically hurting someone while drunk.
  • Physical problems, such as hangovers or illnesses.
  • Unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.
  • Disruption of normal growth and sexual development.
  • Physical and sexual assault.
  • Higher risk for suicide and homicide.
  • Alcohol-related car crashes and other unintentional injuries, such as burns, falls, and drowning.
  • Memory problems.
  • Abuse of other drugs.
  • Changes in brain development that may have life-long effects.
  • Death from alcohol poisoning.

So as deputies patrol the beaches all month long, they're not trying to spoil the fun, they just want to keep people safe.

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