Underage Drinking

Alcohol is the most abused drug in the United States in all age groups. Alcohol is a depressant, which means it slows the heart rate and breathing, as well as the central nervous system. It especially affects the part of the brain that controls mood and emotion.

Time is the only cure for the effects of alcohol on the body. It takes your body about one hour to eliminate the alcohol in one shot of whiskey, one beer, or one glass of wine. All contain approximately the same amount of alcohol. Mixing alcohol with other drugs is especially dangerous. People troubled by alcohol use often have social, physical, financial, or emotional problems.

In South Dakota, as in other states, the legal age to begin drinking alcohol is 21. This is not a random number that someone pulled out of the air or chose as a way to pick on young adults. the human brain generally continues to develop through adolescence and early adulthood. This process continues until the age of 22-23, when the brain is fully developed. Because alcohol, like other drugs, is a mind-altering substance and affects the brain, these effects can influence the brain’s development.

Simply put, a person who begins drinking alcohol before the legal age of 21 has been shown to be more likely to develop alcohol-related problems, including abuse and dependence. Those who postpone alcohol use until the legal age, when their brain is fully or nearly fully developed rarely have such problems.