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Alcohol and Teens

Alcohol, which causes more teenage deaths than any other commonly used drug in the United States, is the leading teenage gateway drug. Gateway drugs are substances that people take which, in many cases, lead to those people taking more drugs. Alcohol, smoking and marijuana are the most obvious gateway drugs. Studies show that if you smoke tobacco or pot, you’re more likely to try things like crystal meth or cocaine or heroin. Many people see alcohol and pot as less dangerous and harmful than other drugs, but the truth is, they are just as dangerous as any other drug in more ways than one.

Not only are alcohol and pot dangerous in their own right, they also screw up your judgment making you more likely to use other drugs. (Cite) Gateway drugs work in two major ways. The first, gateway drugs break down a psychological barrier against doing other drugs. Once you have crossed the line with a gateway drug, you are more likely to go there with other drugs. Second, Gateway drugs impair your judgment. If you are drunk or high, you are more likely to say yes to cocaine or whatever other drug is around. These drugs break down your inhibitions, so you are more susceptible to peer pressure and experimenting.

Cite) They do not just impair your judgment when you are on them they can change the way you feel about drugs in general. Unbelievably, alcohol is the most abused is drug. From pastures to unsupervised parties at home, the social calendars of most teens are full of alcohol. Other drugs rise and fall in popularity from generation to generation, but alcohol never really goes out of style. From being worshiped by the ancient Babylonians to being forbidden to teenagers, alcohol has caused many problems. Today, drinking is the drug of choice by teens and causes more wrecks and deaths today of teens (Cite).

To understand alcohol people must first know the history of alcohol, the effects of teen drinking, and the solutions to teen drinking. Teenagers rarely think before they do many things. Many times teenagers go to big blowouts or little parties with their friends. Their first thought is not about death, their grades, or alcoholism; their main purpose is to get drunk fast and sober up before going home by their set curfews. At parties, teenagers have an average of five or more beers in one night. In the United States teenage drinking has become a major problem, with about 3. illion teens as problem drinkers.

One-fourth of all seventh through twelfth graders admit to drinking at least once a week (Nielson, Nancy. Teen Alcoholism. San Diego: Lucent Books, Inc. , 1990). About forty percent of twelfth graders said they had one episode of heavy drinking in the past two weeks. Although no one knows why teens turn to drinking, various studies show that the amount of alcohol changes by their geographical location (Nielsen). Addiction is an illness in which a person seeks and consumes a substance, such as alcohol, tobacco or a drug, despite the fact that it causes harm.

In order to fully understand addiction, we must first understand why or how one could become addicted. Peer pressure, curiosity, attraction, release of inhibitions and relaxation are some of the reason of addiction. The first thing you must understand about addiction is that mind-altering drugs are basically painkillers. For drugs to be attractive to a person, there must first be some underlying unhappiness, sense of hopelessness, or physical pain. A person has some problem, sense of unhappiness or hopelessness, or physical discomfort. It could be a teenager experiencing his or her first romantic rejection.

A teen tries or uses drugs, to solve a problem. By using the drug a person feels there able to cope with the problem, and become valuable to them. A teenager gradually increases the usage of the drug, because it makes them feel better. Whatever problem they were initially trying to solve by using drugs fades from memory. At this point all they can think about is the drug, and lose the ability to control the usage and disregards the horrible consequences of the addiction. After 1996, the U. S. beer industry had consistent growth with about 3,500 brands on the market in 2002 (www. MADD. org). Imagine that you are the parent of a teenager.

You have just found out that your son or daughter drinks and that he or she has been going to unsupervised parties quite frequently. You decide to step in and do something to help your child. How about having the parties in the safety of your own home with parental supervision so the kids can be safe while they drink? You can even make the kids sleep at your house so they wont drink and drive. This sounds like a great plan, right? Many parents believe so. They reason that since their child is already drinking or will drink in the near future, at least they can make sure he/she is safe while doing it.

The fact of the matter is it the right thing to do to make sure their children are safe? By letting their children drink in safety, the parents are setting a horrible example for the children; they are endangering their children, they are endangering themselves, and they are making the problem worse. Drinking under the age of twenty one is illegal. By letting kids break the law in their own home, parents are showing their teenagers that it is okay to break the law. The parents show that they dont agree with the law, so they are going to break it.

This is a horrible example for teenagers. It also says to the teen that its okay that you drink. Once a teen gets approval from their parents, theyll be more likely to drink anytime. What if there isnt a supervised party this weekend? Do you think that will stop these teenagers from going to an unsupervised one? They can easily go out and make their own party. Today, about sixty six percent of teenagers that drink can buy their own alcohol (Cite). The short and long term effects alcohol has can impair students physically and mentally, impacting their education and health.

In other words, the person’s mental and physical abilities are impaired (Cite). Ethanol is a certain type of depressant alcohol that is responsible for these abnormalities. Depressants give the feeling of intoxication because they restrain the brains ability to communicate with the rest of the body. The intensity of the effects varies from person to person and depends on the amount of alcohol that is absorbed into the bloodstream. For example, if a person has a few drinks, ethanol can make him or her more sociable, increase confidence, or slightly decrease concentration and coordination.

While drinking, the logical thought process can become disrupted without much notice, leading to unintended situations (Cite). Before the age of 18, approximately one in four children is exposed to family alcoholism or addiction. Children of alcoholics are significantly more likely to initiate drinking during adolescence and to develop alcohol abuse disorders. Parents’ drinking behaviors and favorable attitudes about drinking have been associated with adolescents’ initiating and continuing drinking (Cite).

Research studies indicate that children are less likely to drink when their parents are involved with them. Adolescents drink less and have fewer alcohol-related problems when their parents discipline them consistently and set clear expectations. Older siblings alcohol use can influence the alcohol use of younger siblings in the family, particularly for same sex siblings. (Cite MADD) Teenagers often times deal with pressures from homework, love, money, parents and teachers. However, one of the things that pressures them the most is how to fit in with their peers.

We call it peer pressure. Simple enough, it is exactly what it says pressures from your peers or friends. Peer pressure is major reason most teenagers begin drinking. Why? Either because they have persuaded you or because all your friends are doing it. Do you remember the last time your parents declined your requests, and you said something like But everybody has it or But everybody does that? When you say that, you are really saying that you want to fit in with your peers. Parents and youngsters often use the idea of peer pressures to explain the way teenagers behave.

Sometimes, it is an excuse for teens to do things they know they shouldnt be doing. Millions of American teenagers drink alcohol. But sadly enough, many teenagers discover too late that drinking cannot solve any of their problems. Teenage drinking is now one of the most serious problems that young people face. In 1977, Senator Frank J. Dodd stated: Alcoholism is one of the greatest health problems in the United States and is one that afflicts individuals in virtually all social and economic categories and varying age groups (Cite).

From the time children reach the age of 13 , 63 percent of the boys and 54 percent of the girls have at least tried their first alcoholic beverage. (Cite) Alcohol use substantially increases each year throughout junior and senior high school. By the twelfth grade, 93 percent of the young men and 87 percent of the young women have at least tried one drink. Thirty percent of these students had five or more drinks in a row within the previous two weeks. (MADD) The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism states that: By the time teenagers reach twelfth grade, more than half of them drink alcohol at least once a week.

Nearly half of all teenagers who drink say that they have been drunk at least once compared to only 19 percent twenty years ago; Five percent admit they get drunk once a week or more often; Thirty-four percent say their drinking habit has created problems with school, friends, or police (Cite). Its easy to see why alcohol has become the leading gateway drug in teen society. They are products of their environment along with their peers. Makes me wonder why after so many teenage deaths due to the results of alcohol, teens just cant learn.

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