The abuse of alcohol has always been a concern in this country. A legal drug, it is regulated by the liquor control board and is legally allowed only to those over 21 years of age. Yet, each year over 75,000 deaths are attributed to alcohol use each year. At least 41% of all motor vehicle accidents are caused by in some way by alcohol.
Teen use of alcohol can cause anti-social behavior, depression, poor school performance and attendance, and risk behaviors such as unprotected sex. Long-term alcohol abuse can lead to medical problems such as liver disease, brain damage, chronic punctuates, and heart problems.
One of the best defenses a parent can have against his teen’s use of alcohol is information and communication. Following is some helpful information to open discussion with teens to make him think before he starts drinking and perhaps starting a terrible addiction or habit that he cannot turn from later.
Drinking Facts and Myths
Ã˜ Myth:Alcohol improves sexual performance
o Fact: Alcohol decreases sexual performance in males. It can cause impotence or inability to ejaculate. Women may experience increased dryness causing irritation to herself and her partner. Furthermore, alcohol will cause impaired judgment, many times leading to unprotected sex or sex with a partner that was previously unintended.
Ã˜ Myth: A person can drink and remain in control
o Fact: Drinking impairs judgment. This has been proven time and time again and experienced by many, many teens and adults.
Ã˜ Myth: Drinking isn’t dangerous.
o Fact: Alcohol can cause an increase in homicides, suicides, accidental drowning, alcohol overdose, and date rape. It impairs judgment and causes poor reaction time and poor motor skills.
Ã˜ Myth: I can sober up when I have to or want to.
o Fact: Coffee will not sober a drinker up any more quickly. Cold showers will not sober a drinker up any more quickly. Only time will eliminate the effects of alcohol.
Ã˜ Myth: A woman can drink as much as a man.
o Fact: A woman processes alcohol differently than a man does. She cannot drink the same amount of alcohol and stay as sober as a man, even if she is the same weight or drinks as much as he does on a regular basis.
Ã˜ Myth: It doesn’t matter whether a person begins drinking before the age of 21.
o Fact: Drinking under the age of 21 is illegal. Also, the longer a person puts of drinking alcohol, the less likely he is to have an addiction with alcohol later.
Ã˜ Myth: A few drinks will not impair driving.
o Fact: One half of all vehicle accidents resulting in death of those between the ages of 18 and 24 involved alcohol.
Ã˜ Myth: Beer is weaker than liquor.
o Fact: One bottle of beer has the same amount of alcohol as a shot of alcohol and takes the same amount of time to wear off.
- Between 2% to 3% of America’s college population will die from alcohol-related deaths.
- College failure can be attributed to alcohol, 30% of it.
- Driving under the influence of alcohol is the number one killer of teenagers.
- One person is killed every 22 minutes in the United States in drunk driving accidents.
- Approximately 66% of all drowning deaths are caused by alcohol.
- One in every three individuals who commit suicide are under the influence of alcohol.
- The average college student spends between $150 to $300 a year on alcohol.
- Nearly all college rapes involve alcohol use.
- Over half of those who are alcoholics have alcoholic parents.
- Nearly 45% of high school students have tried alcohol.
- Approximately 26% reported that have been drunk.
- Eleven percent of high school students admitted to driving after drinking, and 29% have ridden with someone who had been drinking.
Alcohol can have serious short-term and long-term effects on the body and brain. Short term effects can include impaired motor skills, slurred speech, nausea and vomiting, accidents, memory loss, depression or anxiety, poor academics, and relationship problems. Long-term health problems can sometimes be irreversible. Liver damage such as alcoholic hepatitis leads to cirrhosis of the liver, damage that cannot be repaired. Alcohol can cause trouble in the digestive system, namely with peptic ulcer disease that leads often to bleeding ulcers, a condition that can lead to death if not detected. Prolonged alcohol use can also cause brain damage. It has been proven that the short-term symptoms that a person experiences when he is intoxicated can persist long-term if he drinks heavily on a consistent basis, and it can actually be visualized on a brain scan.
Though the federal law for the legal drinking age is 21, the states allow different legal amounts for intoxication limits to be considered for their drinking and driving laws. Most states, though, hold that if a person is under 21 years of age, there is zero tolerance. This means that a person under 21 years of age is allowed no alcohol whatsoever if he is driving a motor vehicle.
For those whom alcohol has become a problem for there are many organizations that can help:
Classroom Lessons and Activities