Teenage Alcholism Essay, Research Paper
Most teenagers today are using the “most abused drug,” alcohol. Four percent of college students drink alcohol daily. Nearly half of college students are binge drinkers (Facts and Statistics, www.glness.com/ndhs/stats.html). Of the teenagers that do drink, 39% say that they drink alone, 58% say that they drink when they are upset, 30% say that they drink when they are bored, and 37% say that they drink to feel high (Troubled Drink, www.alcoholismhelp.com/help/youth/letter2.html). Most people think that teenagers do no start drinking until they are in their late teens. However, Wilbur Cross (1979) says that most teens have had experiences with alcohol by the time they are thirteen. This is definitely a problem with today’s youth that needs to be solved. Before we can solve this problem, we need to find out why teens drink, teach teens what the effects of drinking alcohol are, and find out what to do to stop teens from drinking.
The first thin that we need to find out is why teenagers are drinking. One of the biggest reasons teens drink is peer pressure. Teens want to gain acceptance from the popular group so they try to look cool by doing what the other kids are doing, drinking (North & Orange, 1980). Teenagers think that the people having the most fun are the people that are drinking (Cross, 1979). Teenagers can overcome this pressure if their self esteem is high enough to stand up to their friends and tell them no. It is very hard and takes a lot of courage for teens to stand up to their friends (Cross, 1979).
Another type of pressure can come form the teenager’s parents. Parents can pressure teens in two ways. The first way is by disapproving of what the teen is doing. A lot of teenagers that drink heavily have parents that strongly disapprove of teens drinking, even though the parents drink themselves. These teens rebel against their parents by hiding their drinking habit (North & Orange, 1980). The highest incidence of alcoholism occurs among children whose parents are alcoholics (North & Orange, 1980, p.40). Another way teens are influenced by their parents is if they are exposed to this type of lifestyle for most of their lives. The teens grow up thinking that this is a normal and grown up way of life. The teens start drinking because they want to be grown up like their parents (North & Orange, 1980). Parents have a bigger influence on their children’s lives than they realize.
Another reason why teenagers drink is because they have the “it won’t happen to me” attitude (Cross, 1979). Teens do not think that they can become alcoholics by just drinking at parties during the weekend. What these teens do not realize is that although it may take years for an adult to go from a social drinker to an alcoholic, a teenager can make the change within a years time, faster if they are using other drugs (Cross, 1979).
According to North and Orange (1980) the media plays a large role in why teens chose to drink. I agree with their conclusion. Every place you turn, on television, in magazines, or even driving down the road, you see advertisements for alcohol. The people in the ads are always smiling and having fun. Beer companies spend between $15-$20 million a year to advertise to college students (Facts and Statistics, www.glness.com/ndhs/stats.html). The ads do not show what can happen while you are under the influence of alcohol or how you will feel in the morning.
We always see celebrities at parties with a drink in their hand. This shows teenagers that they do not just act like they drink, it is their lifestyle. Why wouldn’t a teen want to drink when they see their favorite movie or rock star drinking? These stars are cool and popular, so teens might associate that the alcohol makes them this way (North & Orange, 1980). It all boils down to teenagers want to be “cool”. They will do whatever they think it take to make them be cool.
It is easier to see the effect alcohol has on a teenager, than to find out what makes them drink. There are the obvious effects, hangovers, blackouts, and doing things that you will regret the next day. Hangovers happen the day after you get drunk. Symptoms include Headaches, fatigue, and an unquenchable thirst (Troubled Drink, www.alcoholismhelp.com/help/youth/letter2.hml). There are plenty of “cures” for a hangover, but usually the best is cure is plenty of rest (Cross, 1979). Blackouts are like amnesia. The teen will be able to carry on normal events while they are drinking but will have no memory of it later. Blackouts are caused by the alcohol robbing oxygen from the brain. If the teen experiences blackouts it is a sign of a severe drinking problem (Troubled Drink, www.alcoholismhelp.com/help/youth/letter2.hml). The teen also has to worry about what stories they are going to be faced with when they return to school.
Research has shown that in 75% of males and 55% of females involved in sexual assaults or date or acquaintance rape cases among teenagers and college students alcohol was involved (Facts and Statistics, www.glness.com/ndhs/stats.html). This is a dangerous effect alcohol has on a teen, especially teenaged girls. When everyone is drinking at a party guys can get the wrong idea and girls can get raped. The rape or any unprotected sex could result in pregnancy or and STD, just because of a couple of drinks. Sixty percent of all STDs that are reported are related to alcohol abuse. Teenage boys and girls need to be very careful if the y chose to drink. Choices you make while under the influence can affect the rest of their lives (Facts and Statistics, www.glness.com/ndhs/stats.html).
Alcohol abuse can cause teenagers to get depressed. Teens do not realize that alcohol is a depressant, they assume that it is an upper, because of the buzz or high they get. Teens might drink because they are depressed, but since alcohol is a depressant, they are left felling down even more and start to feel hopeless. This can start a continuous cycle: you drink more, you feel more depressed, so you drink even more, and so on (Facts and Statistics, www.glness.com/ndhs/stats.html). A depressed teenager can eventually commit suicide.
The most dangerous effect alcohol has on teenagers is death, either by drunk driving or alcohol poisoning. Each year up to 360,000 of the countries 12 million undergraduate students die from alcohol related reasons. This is more than the number of students that will receive their Masters or Doctorate degrees (Facts and Statistics, www.glness.com/ndhs/stats.html). Alcohol abuse is responsible for 40% of all traffic fatalities in our country (Facts and Statistics, www.glness.com/ndhs/stats.html). Students that are binge drinkers are at risk of dying from alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that needs immediate attention. When a person has alcohol poisoning it is hard to tell if they are just passed out or in danger of dying (Facts and Statistics, www.glness.com/ndhs/stats.html). A common effect of alcohol poisoning is choking to death on ones own vomit. Death by asphyxiation happens when alcohol depresses a teenager’s body’s reflexes to the point where they can not vomit properly. This causes the teen to choke to death (Facts and Statistics, www.glness.com/ndhs/stats.html). When teenagers make the choice to drink alcohol, they are putting their lives at stake.
Now that we know what a big problem teenage alcoholism is and the effects it can have on a teenager’s life, we need to find a way to discourage teens from using alcohol. Parents play a large role in what decision teens make about drinking. Cross (1979) says that parents should educate teens so they can make responsible decisions about drinking. Parents should not tell their teens that they can not drink, this make alcohol a “forbidden fruit” (Cross, 1979).
The same way parents can pressure their teens to drink; they can help their teens not to drink. Parents own drinking habits effect what attitude a teenager could have about alcohol (Cross, 1979).
A recovering alcoholic once said “If a parent forbids a child to drink at a party, he may keep him sober for one night. But if he teaches him how to respect alcohol, he will keep him sober for a lifetime.” (Cross, 1979, p.86). The most important way a parent can stop a teen from drinking is to teach the child responsibilities and what alcohol can do.
North and Orange (1980) say that teens might not drink if they have other alternatives or activities available. I disagree with them because there are many teens that are very involved in school activities that go out to drink at parties. Any more every teen has experimented with alcohol (North & Orange, 1980).
The only way I think teens will stop drinking is if the parents start doing their jobs. From the time the children are born if they are raised with morals, rules, and values when they become teenagers they will already know about alcohol and know that they should not use it. It is the parents responsibilities to not only stop, but try to make sure the teen does not start drinking.
Something has got to be done about the alcohol problem that today’s youth has. Maybe by finding the causes that make teenagers drink, educating teens about the effects alcohol has on them, and trying to prevent teens from drinking we can save our future.
1. Cross, W. (1979). Kids and Booze: What You Must Know to Help Them. New York: A Sunrise Book.
2. North, R., & Orange, R. (1980). Teenage Drinking: The #1 Drug Threat to Young People Today. New York: Macmillan Publishing Co., Inc.
3. Facts and Statistics, www.glness.com/ndhs/stats.html
4. Troubled Drink, www.alcoholismhelp.com/help/youth/letter2.html