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In Trinidad and Tobago, the legal age for drinking alcohol is 18 years. Despite this, lots of teens and children drink alcohol, sometimes even developing an addiction before they even reach adulthood. Maybe you’ve even tried alcohol once or twice yourself, whether because of curiosity, peer pressure, or because your parents let you have a little sip now and then. Though lectures from your parents or other adults about the dangers of alcohol can seem to get old pretty quickly, there’s a reason you should wait until you’re 18.

 

Why is it such a big deal?

It’s against the law, of course. However, the government doesn’t insist on people only being able to drink after their 18 just because they want to stop you from having a good time. Before the age of 18, your brain is still growing and maturing and alcohol can have a negative impact on your memory and ability to think clearly in the long term. It can also cause liver failure and an imbalance in your hormones that can lead to disruptions to puberty.

Even if you weren’t worried about that, you should know that teenagers and children are much more likely to experience alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning occurs when the blood alcohol level in your body becomes so high that your liver can’t process and get rid of it fast enough. This can mean you’ll have trouble walking or standing upright, you might experience blackouts in which you lose your memory, faint and sustain an injury, or you may even end up in danger of strangers who may want to harm you (especially if you got drunk while out for a lime or a party). These are just some of the dangers of alcohol poisoning.

Beyond this, developing a habit of drinking to cope with emotional pain or to make socialising with others less nerve-wracking will restrict your ability to function emotionally and socially in a healthy way. Reliance on alcohol as a coping strategy will prevent you from learning how to deal with setbacks and strong emotions in a positive and productive way. As cool as the occasional drink with friends might seem when you’re younger, uncontrollable drinking that negatively impacts your everyday life won’t be so cool in the future.

What if you miss out on the experience?

There’s no reason to fear “missing out” of the experience of drinking alcohol as a teenager. Any “friend” that forces you to do something you don’t want to do or something that may put you in danger is no real friend. You have your whole life ahead of you. Enjoy your childhood and adolescence without having to worry about damaging your body and mind before even getting to adulthood. Don’t stress it! Your 18th birthday will be here soon enough if it isn’t already!

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