Another Empty Bottle: Underage Essay, Research Paper
Another Empty Bottle: Underage Drinking
Barely out of childhood, young people are today experiencing more freedom, autonomy, and choices than ever, at a time when they still need special nurturing, protection and guidance. Without parents or other adults safeguarding, the young adolescents are at risk of harming themselves and others. Early adolescence is a critical turning point in one’s life. This period, therefore, represents an optimal time for interventions to prevent destructive behaviour and promote healthy practices. “More than 10 million drinkers in Canada are between the ages of 12 and 20. Of these young drinkers, 20% engage in binge drinking and 6% are heavy drinkers ” (www.cspinet.org/booze/alcyouth.htm p.1of 2). (1) On average, young people begin drinking at 13 years of age. The question then being: Can society be held responsible for the consequences to underage drinking? Throughout the following, you as the reader will discover the health consequences to alcohol abuse, what can happen as a result of binge drinking, the best practices for regulating underage drinking, social issues about why teens drink, search methods used by law enforcement, and lastly how youth can be easily lead to underage consumption.
The use and the abuse of alcohol by teens is very common and can have serious consequences. Alcohol is a depressant that slows down the body and mind. Just one drink is enough to result in serious consequences. When and individual drinks, some of the alcohol is absorbed into the blood through the stomach, but most is absorbed through the small intestine. Once in the blood, it travels to many parts of the body, including the heart, brain and liver. The liver functions to remove alcohol from the bloodstream, but it can only eliminate a certain amount of alcohol per hour. When someone drinks alcohol at a faster rate than their liver can eliminate, problems arise. As the alcohol level in the blood increases, intoxication occurs, leading to alcohol poisoning, respiratory failure and eventually coma and death. Alcohol can prevent young people from developing good judgement, it can add stress and it can cause low self esteem. In addition, alcohol interferes with growth, and disrupts athletic ability by slowing down coordination and reflexes. Alcohol also lowers the body’s immune system and causes many emotional, physical, and sexual problems. Sex can be a confusing topic for teens and alcohol doesn’t make it any easier. It interferes with their ability to choose wisely. Alcohol also increases the risk of HIV, sexually transmitted diseases, pregnancy, as well as date rape and other violence. “Almost half of the teens that are in custody of crimes such as rape, murder, assault and drug charges all claimed that they were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time of the crime” (www.library.thinkquest.org/ dwi. htm p.1of 2). (2)
Binge drinking increases the risk for alcohol-related injury, especially for young people who often combine alcohol with other high risk activities such as impaired driving. Due to heavy binge drinking, nearly one out of every five teenagers (16%) has experienced blackouts after which they could not remember what happened the previous evening. What is binge drinking? Binge drinking can be defined as ” the consumption of five or more drinks in a row on at least one occasion”(www.health.org/govpubs/binge.htm
p.1of 2). (3) Binge drinking is very common amongst teenagers before a social gathering such as a dance or formal activity administrated by the school. According to the Centers for Disease Control Prevention the four leading injury-related causes of death among youths under the age of 19 are motor vehicle crashes, homicides, suicides, and drownings. Alcohol is involved in more than half of these deaths. Binge drinking, or the partying lifestyle of young people may be related to an environment that appears to support heavy drinking. Binge drinkers cited the following as important reasons for drinking: 47% say that they drink to get drunk, others say because of statutes associated with drinking. Some say because of culture of alcohol consumption and others drink because of peer pressure or academic stress.
A higher percentage of binge drinkers than non-binge drinkers reported having experienced alcohol related problems. “Frequent binge drinkers were 21 times more likely than non-binge drinkers to have missed class, fallen behind in school work,
damaged property, been hurt or injured, engaged in unplanned sexual activity, had unprotected sex, gotten in trouble with the police and driven a car after drinking”.
(www.cspinet.org/booze/fact1.htm p.2 of 2 ). (4) Binge drinking also has an impact on others. 71% say that they had sleep or study interrupted, 57% say that they had to take care of an intoxicated friend, 36% had been insulted or humiliated by a drunk friend, 23% had experienced unwanted sex, 23% also reported a serious argument, 16% had property damaged, 11% had been pushed, hit or assaulted, and 1% had been the victim of a sexual advance such as date rape.
Prevention strategies in response to binge drinking by young people include actions to reduce alcohol availability, such as increases in price, and responsible beverage service practices, especially at parties. Some communities require keg tagging, which requires kegs to be labelled with a serial number identifying the purchaser in case the keg is discovered at an underage drinking party. Other strategies include restrictions on marketing and promoting heavy drinking, especially those directed at young people. A third of adults have concerns about such ads. Sixty percent (60%) of this group think that liquor ads on television would increase underage drinking. Fifty six percent (56%) of students in grade five to twelve say that alcohol advertising does in fact encourage them to drink.
Youths often report that alcohol is more available to them today than it was five years ago. It seems as though young people have easy access to alcohol. ” in alcohol purchase attempts made by researchers across Canada, buyers who appeared to be underage were able to purchase alcohol with no questions asked at least 50% of the time (www.cspinet.org/booze/alcyouth.htm, p.2of 2 ). (5) In addition, alcoholic beverages remain inexpensive in comparison with other beverages, especially beer when purchased in kegs.. Commercial and social availability make it that much easier for youth to obtain alcohol. Therefore by banning commercial sales and gifts to minors, restricting the location of alcohol outlets, alcohol sales at community events, the age of alcohol servers and sellers, minor`s access to bars and night clubs, installing and using licence scanners, regulating home delivery and internet mail orders, and also restricting noncommercial furnishing of alcohol to minors and enforcing shoulder-tap programs (deters adult strangers from buying alcohol for minors), teenager`s alcohol consumption could become very deterrent.
Alcohol is not a way to develop social skills. Young people use alcohol because they feel peer pressured to use it. They think that if they drink, they will become popular. What they don’t seem to realize is that drinking gives you bad breath, and increases your calorie intake, therefore making a person gain wait. It also gives you zits. Now how’s that going to get you a date? The reality is that alcohol doesn’t solve any problems or enhance your image, but in fact makes a youth’s life more difficult by having a harder time making decisions. It can get a person in trouble. Whether it be with your family, school, or the law. Using alcohol will not make things go away.
The combination of a teenager’s curiosity, risk taking behaviour, and social pressure make it harder to say no. This leads most teens to the question ” Will it hurt to try one? ” A teen with a family history of alcohol abuse and a lack of social skills can move rapidly from experimentation to patterns of serious abuse or dependency. Therefore there is a good chance that “one ” drink will hurt a teen. Teenagers with such family history are often advised to abstain and not to experiment, because no one can predict for sure who will abuse or become dependent. Warning signs of teenage alcohol abuse may include a drop in school performance, a change in group of friends, delinquent behaviour and deterioration in family relationships.
There are many methods by which law enforcement search for underage drinkers. The methods include stings, point of purchase, and party patrols. Stings use underage buyers who are sent by the police to attempt to purchase alcoholic beverages in stores and hotels. The goal of this operation is to make the community aware that alcohol is not to be sold to minors, and that laws will be strictly enforced. It is hoped that through sting operations, that the stores and hotels will voluntarily comply with the laws and not sell alcohol to minors. Another method is the Point of Purchase (POP). This is where law enforcement disguises itself in plain clothes and works in restaurants and as desk clerks.
If underage people ask for alcohol, the police quickly make the arrest. Most stores and businesses prefer this method as opposed to the sting method because it targets the buyer of alcohol and not the distributors. Party patrols are another method used by the police to prevent alcohol use and underaged impaired drivers. The police generally hear of parties through community sources and then use a cautious approach to break up the party and explain to the kids that their actions endanger the lives of themselves and others. Police do not storm parties in this type of patrol because party members can just flee in cars, increasing the risk of a DWI accident.
It has been said that teens are being lured into drinking. National Poll`s show that “alcopop” beverages (sweet, fruit-flavoured drinks) appeal more to teenagers than to adults and that teens are more likely to consume them. New beverages, including Mike`s Hard Lemonade, Rick`s Spiked Lemonade, Doc Otis` Hard Lemonade, Jed`s Hard Lemonade, Tequiza, Sublime, and Hooper`s Hooch, come in hip bright colourful youth- oriented packaging. The labels resemble non-alcoholic lemonade, fruit punch and soft drinks..all popular with teens..though labels do disclose alcohol content. More than 80% of teens say “alcopops” are easy to get if they want them. It is said that alcopops “are gateway drugs that ease young people into drinking and pave the way to more traditional alcoholic beverages” (http://www.cspinet/booze/alcpops.htm p.1 of 2). (6) By a three to one margin, teens report that they are more familiar than adults with “alcopops” and 17 and 18- year- olds are more than twice as likely as adults to have tried them. Both teens and adults believe that the new drinks are marketed primarily to people under the legal alcohol purchase age of 19 and 67% of adults think that companies make ” alcopops” taste like lemonade to lure young people into trying them. According to the poll, 90% of teens agree that the newer, sweeter drinks can make it more likely that teenagers will try other alcoholic beverages. 41% of teens 14 to 18 have tried alcopop; twice as many 14-16-year-olds prefer them over beer or mixed drinks.
There are so many different things to worry about when you drink underage. Is it really worth all the risks involved? This becomes the individual’s decision. This is a way to prove that you’ve grown up, that you are about to make the right choices. Alcohol is just one more thing. Take a stand and don’t bother with alcohol. You’ll be surprised what independence can do for your image. You may want to loosen up, but alcohol IS NOT a liquid solution. You could end up making a fool out of yourself and doing something you’ll regret. You want to be in control. But when you wake up in a strange place and don’t remember how you got there, you’re definitely not in control. It’s tough being our age. There’s a serious amount of pressure to do the right thing. But be your own self. Don’t feel pressured into drinking even though giving into pressure is easier than taking a stand. Somewhere between the brain, the heart and the mouth, a person’s individuality gets lost. Maybe it’s swallowed with that first sip of beer?
I do not honestly believe that society can be held entirely accountable for underage drinking. Everyone is responsible for his or her own actions. Although by flaunting and advertising alcohol in front of an underaged person`s face, society cannot truly expect a curious individual to resist temptation and peer pressure. The fact that “you can look but you can`t touch” just doesn`t apply in this situation. We as a society can only try to discourage underage drinking. Whether it be through lectures or television commercials, underaged drinking is an important issue that should be addressed.