Teenage Drinking In America Essay, Research Paper
Teenage Drinking in America
Teenagers are America?s greatest natural resource, and they need to be protected from some of the evils that lurk in the world. A subject that needs special attention is the abuse of alcohol by teens. Statistics show that there is a problem currently between teens and alcohol. There are many causes of teenage drinking and effects that prove that drinking is an important issue that needs to be dealt with to preserve American teenagers. Teenage drinking will become worse of a problem if it continues unchecked on its current path to destruction. Alcohol abuse among teenagers in the United States is a plague that is destroying the structure of American society.
Statistics show that there certainly is a problem with teens and alcohol in America. Half of the teenage deaths in America are in some way influenced by alcohol (DUI Statistics 1). One of the largest causes of teenage deaths is automobile accidents that are related to alcohol. On average, eight teenagers die every day in America because of a driver that is intoxicated. In the next ten years twenty-four percent more automobile accidents will be caused by teenagers between the ages of fifteen and seventeen (Los Altos Town Crier 1). Drinking in excess is the cause of one hundred thousand deaths per year in America. Eleven thousand of these one hundred thousand deaths are alcohol-induced murders. Eight thousand deaths are suicides and cancer accounts for seventeen thousand deaths. Strokes caused by alcohol kills around nine thousand people per year (Doyle 1). Mike Barnicle from the Boston Globe best states America?s problem in his October seventh column, ?In the course of a normal day, alcohol absolutely ruins more American families and destroys more individual lives than a whole warehouse of filter tips? (1).
There are many reasons why teenagers get involved with alcohol in the first place. There are some complex causes to teenage drinking. There are social, emotional, and physical causes that influence teens to drink alcohol. The most prevalent cause of teenage drinking is peer pressure.
Every problem has a beginning, where the domino effect starts. In most cases people get started drinking not because they like it, but because it is illegal and it gives them a chance to rebel. The so-called ?rebel? becomes bored of drinking alone and eventually seeks ?company? when they are drinking. The only catch is that the ?rebel? can not be the only one drinking so the ?company? has to drink. This is where the problem with peer pressure and teenage drinking begins and the first domino starts the chain reaction. There are two types of peer pressure. There is direct peer pressure where a subject?s peers actually force him into having a drink. There is also indirect peer pressure where the subject enters a setting and his peers are drinking so he decides to have a drink to fit in with the rest of his peers (Articles-Teenage Drinking 2). Surveys show that alcohol abuse is related to teenage activities such as going on dates and going to parties (Teenage Alcohol Misuse 2).
Teens have emotional reasons for drinking alcohol. Teens choose to drink to relax and allow their bodies to unwind after a stressful day. Teenagers also choose drinking as a way to escape the harsh realities of the world such as, problems at home and pressure caused by school (Articles-Teenage Drinking 1).
There are several physical causes that explain why teenagers drink alcohol and become dependent on it. Some people are born with low levels of endorphins in their body, so they drink alcohol to get the feelings that the endorphins produce. Endorphins are substances that closely resemble morphine; they produce a feeling of well being (World Book-Blum 1). Another physical cause of teenage drinking involves genetics. Research has provided theories that teenagers could have a natural attraction to alcohol due to genetic makeup. Medical research has not proved this theory yet, but studies in alcoholic parents have shown that their children are more likely to become alcoholics than other children are (UMHS-Causes of Alcoholism 1). Another factor that plays a key role in determining problem drinkers is the inheritability of alcoholism. Children inherit special enzymes from their parents that are used in the liver to break down alcohol. Every teenager has different enzymes and that is why some teens can resist alcohol?s effects more so than others can. Other teens that are not as lucky as others are more vulnerable to alcohol?s effects and its toxins (ADAMHA 2). The teens that are more vulnerable to alcohol?s effects usually become problem drinkers as adults. These reasons show why teens start drinking and why some become problem drinkers. The preceding causes prove that teenage drinking is in fact a plague that is tearing at the fabric of American society.
Teenage drinking has many devastating effects on society. Losses due to alcohol abuse in America are valued at around one hundred and sixteen billion dollars per year (ADAMHA News 1). This includes accidents at work or at home that limits a persons abilities to perform. Teenagers destroy their social life when they become involved with drinking alcohol. When a teen becomes a problem drinker, they withdraw themselves from any social contact. This means that they avoid any contact with their family and also their friends in some cases. Sometimes teens become abusive and violent. It only takes the smallest trigger to cause a teenager to become physical. Ultimately, the teenager destroys the framework of the family and the family falls apart along with the teen (UMHS-How Alcoholism Affects the Family 1). Teenagers with drinking problems also fail to perform at school and on the job (ADAMHA News 1). Drinking is a potential threat to a teen?s social life and family life.
Alcohol has many effects on a teenager?s general health. Some teenagers do not realize how they are endangering their own bodies when they drink alcohol. There are both long- term effects of teenage drinking and immediate effects. An immediate effect of excessive drinking is brain damage. The brain is the first organ in the body that is affected when alcohol is introduced into the blood system. In comparison to the other organs affected by alcohol, the brain is affected the most (ADAMHA News 2). CAT scans show that excessive drinking alters the structure of the brain (ADAMHA News 4). Brain damage is associated with excessive amounts of drinking over a short time period.
Alcohol has a long list of long term effects on the human body. An example of a long-term effect caused by continued heavy drinking is cirrhosis. Cirrhosis makes the liver in-effective by forming scar tissues around the liver that blocks blood flow through the liver (UMHS-Alcohol Related Diseases 1). Cirrhosis claims around twenty-eight thousand lives in the United States alone. This places cirrhosis at ninth for the causes of death in America (ADAMHA News 1). Alcohol is a factor in causing damage to the digestive system and cardiovascular system. Drinking over a long period of time results in disrupted heart rhythm, heart disease, and high blood pressure (ADAMHA 3).