Drinking over a lifespan

Underage and young people

Views on alcohol and children or young people vary by culture. However, there are a few universal concepts to consider carefully:

  • Drinking, and particularly heavy drinking, may have negative effects on the growing body, particularly on the developing brain.
  • Physical and emotional reactions to alcohol may be quite different from the reactions of an adult.
  • Alcohol may bring about increased risk for negative emotional, physical, and sexual experiences.
  • Decision-making can be impulsive and emotional, particularly with adolescents who may have a sense of invincibility. Adding alcohol at this time of physical and emotional change can be a particularly negative mix.

Many countries have age limits for the purchase (legal purchase age, or LPA) and consumption (legal drinking age, or LDA) of alcohol – find out yours here. Families should be aware of and understand the laws about these legal age limits and how they apply to drinking inside and outside the home. Underage drinking is illegal and can have harsh penalties, including jail time for those who provide alcohol to underage youth.

The legal drinking ages are designed to protect young people from harm, as their bodies, brains, and judgment are still developing. Drinking at this time – particularly heavy drinking — could have negative long-term physical and psychological consequences.

IARD members want to be very clear: They do not want their products to be sold or distributed to underage youth.