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  • Tequila Use Among Teens | Facts, Risks, & Prevention

    Published on September 22, 2021
    Tequila Use Among Teens | Facts, Risks, & Prevention

    In the United States, you must be at least 21 to drink any amount of alcohol. However, many people start drinking before this age. Underage drinking poses serious physical, mental, and emotional risks.

    One of the most popular and most dangerous alcoholic drinks among young people is tequila. Tequila is a type of liquor made from the blue agave plant. 

    Facts About Underage Tequila Use

    During childhood or the teen years, a person may start drinking tequila due to peer pressure, stress, or a desire for independence. 

    A 2019 study of high school students found that 29% drank alcohol, with females drinking more frequently than males. 

    Binge Drinking

    The study also found that 14% of high school students binge drank. 

    Binge drinking means drinking to the point where your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) reaches 0.08%. Young women generally reach this BAC after 3 drinks, while young men reach it after 3 to 5 drinks. A standard “drink” contains 14 grams of pure alcohol, which is found in 1.5 ounces of tequila. 

    Problem Drinkers

    Another study found that 1 in 5 teenagers are problem drinkers. That means they get drunk, have alcohol-related accidents, and get in trouble with the law, their school, or their friends, family members, or romantic partners. 

    Easy Access To Tequila

    Unfortunately, many young people have easy access to tequila. According to a 2019 study, 96.5% of 12- to 14-year-olds who drank alcohol in the past month got it for free. In most cases, they found it at home or got it from family members.

    Young people also tend to prefer specific brands of tequila. A 2013 study found that the most popular tequila brands among young people included Jose Cuervo, Fat Ass, Patron, and 1800.

    Risks Of Underage Tequila Use

    Young people who use tequila face a higher risk of:

    • damaged relationships, often because tequila abuse increases the risk of irritability, aggression, and isolation from others
    • school problems, including poor grades and frequent absences
    • mental health concerns like depression, anxiety, and low self-esteem
    • impaired brain development, which can cause problems with memory and thinking
    • risky sexual behaviors, which can lead to sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancies
    • other forms of substance abuse

    Also, every year, excessive use of alcohol causes more than 3,500 deaths among people under 21. These deaths may occur due to alcohol-induced diseases, such as liver disease or heart disease

    Consequences Of Impaired Judgement

    Fatal incidents may also occur because alcohol impairs your judgment. With impaired judgment, you’re more likely to be involved in deadly situations such as:

    • car crashes
    • falls
    • burns
    • drownings
    • physical fights
    • suicide or homicide attempts

    In addition, many young people die from alcohol poisoning (also called alcohol overdose). In most cases, alcohol poisoning results from binge drinking. 

    Binge drinking is particularly common among young people who drink tequila or other types of liquor. 

    That’s because most people who drink liquor consume multiple shots (servings of about 1.5 ounces) in a short amount of time. Other people drink liquor in mixed drinks, which contain sweeteners that hide the taste of alcohol and allow for faster consumption.

    Risk Of Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD

    The earlier you start drinking alcohol, the higher your risk of alcohol use disorder. Alcohol use disorder (also called alcohol addiction) is a serious disease that makes you feel unable to stop drinking alcohol. To recover, most people need professional treatment. 

    The most common signs of alcohol use disorder are tolerance and physical dependence

    Tolerance means you need increasingly larger or more frequent drinks to feel the desired effects. Physical dependence means you experience unpleasant withdrawal symptoms (such as anxiety or sweating) when you don’t drink. 

    How To Prevent Underage Tequila Use

    As a parent or guardian of a young person, you can prevent underage tequila use by:

    • discussing the dangers of drinking
    • establishing that alcohol use is not allowed
    • staying involved in your child’s life
    • getting to know your child’s friends and discouraging friendships with people who use tequila or other drugs
    • encouraging your child and their friends to participate in activities that don’t involve alcohol
    • hiding any tequila or other types of alcohol you have in your home
    • teaching your child how to refuse alcohol in social situations (for example, they could make excuses, such as “I have a doctor’s appointment tomorrow, and they might take a urine sample”)
    • talking to other parents about preventing underage alcohol use
    • supervising parties or events to ensure no alcohol is present
    • helping your child get treatment for depression, anxiety, or other mental health challenges, as these issues increase the risk of alcohol abuse 
    • serving as a positive role model by drinking in moderation (which means having 2 drinks or less in one day for men and having 1 drink or less in one day for women)

    If you or someone you love struggles with underage tequila use, please contact an Ark Behavioral Health specialist. Our alcohol abuse treatment programs provide comprehensive treatment services, including therapy, medical detox, and support groups.

    Written by Ark Behavioral Health Editorial Team
    ©2023 Ark National Holdings, LLC. | All Rights Reserved.
    This page does not provide medical advice.

    Centers for Disease Control and Prevention - Underage Drinking
    National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism - Underage Drinking
    United States National Library of Medicine - Brand-specific consumption of alcohol among underage youth in the United States

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