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.
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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 in 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 of 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 to drink as a way to escape the harsh realities of the world such as problems at home and pressure caused by the 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 bodies, so they drink alcohol to get the feeling that the endorphins produced. 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 person’s 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.
Does alcohol have 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 the cardiovascular system. Drinking over a long period of time results in disrupted heart rhythm, heart disease, and high blood pressure (ADAMHA 3).
Alcohol is the most common and popular drug in many cultures. There are several problems caused by underage drinking; furthermore, this is a serious disease. Most teenagers have a greater record of underage drinking compared to young people 20 years ago.
There are more accidents and deaths now as a result of underage alcohol consumption. Subsequently, we are for the banning of underage drinking.
First of all, alcohol causes many problems for society nowadays. Alcohol has been used throughout history for various reasons.
According to the medical Encyclopedia, alcoholism is an illness marked by drinking alcoholic beverages to excess. As long as alcohol consumption is not at a level that interferes with physical health, it is not a problem. There are two types of alcoholism: dependence and abuse; however, both of them could cause many problems in society. Alcoholism has a large effect on youth; there are more than 10.4 million young people between ages 12 and 20 who suffer from it.
Second, the difference between social drinking and alcohol has changed a lot over time. Now alcohol abuse has become teenagers’ focus. In addition, they don’t have control over how much they drink. They might want to attend social events that only involve alcohol, or they can’t enjoy themselves.
Going to a bar or making a drink after coming home from work becomes more important than connecting with friends or family. These days, alcohol might be a way to avoid painful feelings or troubled relationships. As a result, teenagers might resort to dangerous behavior, like driving while drunk, or they may even exhibit violent behavior.
Third, there are more accidents and deaths as a result of underage alcohol consumption. When people ask teenagers how easy it is to get alcohol, they mostly say it is very easy. As alcohol is easier to obtain, it produces more problems. Around 4,300 deaths are caused by teenagers who drink alcohol because they are more likely to have car accidents or fights.
For example, according to the daily mail online, ”Joseph Salah, 19, lost control of his car while he was driving drunk, crashing and killing David Powel, 20 years old, instantly and injuring two other passengers.” Imagine a teen driving drunk without thinking about consequences, or messing around with someone who cannot control his or her behavior; it often results in a catastrophe.
Finally, we disagree with underage alcohol consumption. Nevertheless, this issue causes a lot of arguments around the world. Society is affected by alcohol, but governments still allow it to be sold while banning other drugs. Alcohol companies produce millions of dollars annually in revenues and taxes; that’s why governments won’t do more to prevent underage alcohol consumption.
There is a common discussion in American culture about the lowering of the current drinking age set at 21 years old. According to an image created on August 25th, 2015 on procon.org, 6% of countries in the world have the drinking age set at 21 years old. America is one of these countries. But why don’t we join the 61% of countries who have their drinking age set at the age of 18? E. Kuntsche et al argue that easily accessible alcohol is promoted by adolescents’ backgrounds. On the other hand, “Alcohol Abuse Remains High on College Campuses, but Black Students Drink to Excess Far Less Often Than Whites” shows that it might not be backgrounds that causes underage drinking to be such a huge problem.
Linda Richter et al discusses how underage consumption of alcohol is such a pivotal part to the American economy. Although some of these points may be true, Steven K. Galson argues how and why adolescents are attracted to the thought of underage drinking and discusses the negative medical implications of underage alcohol use.
Alcohol availability is not easily obtained for underage drinkers. There are some ways to get around the law like getting a fake ID or just having an older friend/family member buy you alcohol. Kuntsche et al analyze the perceived availability of alcohol for underage drinkers.
The authors discuss how easily accessible alcohol may be detrimental to adolescents’ perception of underage drinking. If alcohol is easily accessible or even promoted in their social and personal lives, then this of course will drive them into the habit of underage drinking. With keeping the drinking age at 21, this will take the availability of alcohol out of these adolescents’ hands.
Later in the academic journal, he states “underage drinking is common and is socially endorsed” (Kuntsche et al 811). The availability and usage of alcohol all depends on the characteristics of the drinker’s social and physical environments. For example, college campuses are susceptible to underage drinkers and make it a more dangerous place for things to go wrong. College students are affected by peer pressure and feel obligated to take part in underage drinking.
The unknown author of the article from The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education 28 analyzes the problem of underage drinking on college campuses in the United States. The author discusses multiple incidents of alcohol poisoning and how colleges are trying to control these situations. Some colleges, including Dartmouth College in New Hampshire, have decided to abolish social fraternities and sororities as an attempt to decrease “excessive drinking and partying” (19).
The author then refers to Dr. Henry Wechsler, a professor at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, who conducted a study on binge drinking on college campuses. Dr. Wechsler’s main argument is that African American students were less likely to excessively drink than white students. This shows that Kuntsche’s argument that background is influential on underage drinking is partially false. A good portion of African Americans have a tough background, but that only motivates them to focus on their college curriculum (20).
Not only does underage drinking affect college students; underage drinking affects the citizens of America as a whole. Linda Richter et al discuss how underage drinking is a huge part of the US economy. They also discuss how the citizens of the United States do not want young adults to be underage drinking.
Although many underage kids participate in underage drinking, the authors concluded that adults do not want anything to do with underage drinking. “For limiting youth access to alcohol, [they] recommend using… higher alcohol taxes, zero-tolerance laws… and penalizing parents and alcohol establishments responsible for providing alcohol to minors” (Richter et al 63, 65). In spite of underage drinking is such a huge part of our economy, the authors believe that doing this would put a tighter hold on those who participate in underage consumption of alcohol.
Steven K. Galson agrees with Richter and Kuntsche. He states that “genetic, psychological, and social factors” all play a role in adolescents’ decisions to underage drink (Galson 2). He also provides more of a medical viewpoint on why the drinking age should not be lowered.
He concludes that underage drinking causes more deaths, academic failure, as well as risky sexual behavior which could lead to the spread of STDs, HIV, or AIDs. He also states that drinking causes alterations to the brain and its growth (Galson 3). In the end, underage drinking does not outweigh the potential short term and long term risks.
Lowering the drinking age from 21 years old to 18 years old would be detrimental to our country. The authors of these journals argue the implications of lowering the drinking age. The social, political, and personal problems that arise with the commodity of underage drinking are way too risky for the youth of America. We are not ready for the drinking age to be lowered. At least not yet.
This academic journal analyzes underage drinking and its effects on citizens of the United States. The authors discuss how underage drinking is a huge part of the US economy. They also discuss how the citizens of the United States do not want young adults to be underage drinking.
The authors conducted a study in which they randomly selected citizens to participate. Although many underage kids participate in underage drinking, the study concluded that adults do not want anything to do with underage drinking.
This would be useful for me to utilize in my essay because it shows the positive effects of keeping the drinking age set at 21 years old. I can also use the counter-argument of how underage drinking is a huge part of the US economy as a way for me to show the other side of the argument.
This academic journal analyzes the problem of underage drinking on college campuses in the United States. The unknown author discusses multiple incidents of alcohol poisoning and how colleges are trying to control these situations.
Some colleges including Dartmouth College in New Hampshire have decided to abolish social fraternities and sororities as an attempt to decrease “excessive drinking and partying.” The author then refers to Dr. Henry Wechsler, a professor at Harvard University’s School of Public Health, who conducted a study on binge drinking on college campuses. Dr. Wechsler’s main argument is that African American students were less likely to excessively drink than white students. This source would be useful for me to utilize in my research essay because it provides a few statements that I can use to demonstrate the positive effects of keeping the legal drinking age at 21 years old.
This academic journal analyzes the perceived availability of alcohol for underage drinkers. The authors discuss how easily accessible alcohol may be detrimental to adolescents’ perception of underage drinking. If alcohol is easily accessible or even promoted in their social and personal lives, then this of course will drive them into the habit of underage drinking.
With keeping the drinking age at 21, this will take the availability of alcohol out of these adolescents’ hands. This journal would be useful for me to utilize because I can use it as a way for me to convince the reader that keeping the drinking age at 21 is a smart thing to do.
This academic journal deals with the negative health implications that underage drinking has on adolescents. Galson also discusses how and why underage youth are so attracted to drinking. He states “genetic, psychological, and social factors” all play a role in adolescents’ decisions to underage drink. He also argues that underage drinking can cause a shift in the development of the brain. I can use Galson’s arguments to show the reader that underage drinking is not worth the hassle. These negative implications are going to be my main focus in this paper.
Teenage drinking is something that goes on every day. No matter how many videos you show to kids about drinking they will still drink. Surveys show that the average teen seventeen and up spends $475.00 a year on liquor, mostly beer. [That’s more than books, soda, coffee, juice, and milk combined]. Most parents don’t know about teenage drinking unless they catch their kids doing it. Some parents say, “their kids would never do that “, and they’re the ones whose kids probably drink more than the average teen. (MADD, 00)
One might ask, how do kids get an alcohol? Alcohol is almost as easy to get as a carton of milk, except a teen has to get someone older like a friend, brother, or even someone off of the street to purchase it. Another way underage teens get alcohol is a fake I.D. A lot of stores don’t care; they just need to ask for an I.D. because Security cameras are watching them. No matter what city you are in, one in every five stores will sell beer to a minor. If stores stop selling to minors they would lose a lot of business.
Looking at the surveys I took off the Internet on this topic, it can be seen what teens think about teenage drinking. The results were shocking! The first question asked was, “Have you ever drank alcohol?” Of the students surveyed, 16% said no and 84% said yes. The second question was, “How often do you drink?” The results were on average three to four drinks a week.
The third question was, “How much do you usually drink?” The average number of beers was eight and the average number of shots was seven. The fourth question was, “Have you ever drank alcohol before driving and 68% said yes!
One of the last questions it asked was, “What would you do if you killed someone drinking and driving?” The majority replied that they could not live with themselves. Just through talking to people and going to parties, I have seen most people drink to get drunk, not many people drink just a drink or two. Many students don’t feel that drinking is a crime because they are not hurting anyone unless they are driving drunk.
Drinking is a crime and there are many penalties for the teen that chooses to break the law. For a first time offender, a teen would be taken to jail, fingerprinted, and photographed. At the time of arrest, if drunk, one could be taken to detoxification (detox) for up to seventy-two hours.
A detox is a place where the offender would go to sober up because the authorities feel a person may cause harm to themselves or others. The second time a teen gets caught he or she could be charged with fines of up to $500.00. After the third offense, the fines only get more expensive.
If any of these charges involve driving, the penalties can get much worse. If one is get caught drinking underage plus driving a vehicle all driving privileges could be taken away. In some places, the length of driving restrictions ranges up to 2 years and $1000.00. Many people don’t take these laws seriously. They are much worse when they happen in real life. Parents, teachers, and friends can tell teenagers the consequences of drinking and driving, but often they don’t think it will happen to them until they are caught and inconvenienced by their mistakes.
There are many people who drink underage. They are mostly teens that are high
School and college students. The following statistics are unbelievable:
- College students drink an estimated four billion cans of beer a year.
- The total amount of alcohol consumed by teen college students is 430 million gallons. This is enough for every college and university in the United States to fill an Olympic size swimming pool.
- As many as 360,000 of the nation’s twelve million teens in school, will die from alcohol-related accidents.
- Beer manufacturers spend an estimated $15-20 million a year to promote products to teens.
- The number of girls who drink to get drunk has nearly tripled in the past ten years.
- 75% of male students and 55% of female students involved in sexual assault or rape were using alcohol at the time
- Almost 14% of college students drink alcohol daily. (SADD, 99)
These statistics are so outrageous to many people, but they are true. There are many reasons for these incredibly high statistics, but one of the most frightening reasons is a new fad that college students, especially, are taking part in, and that is “Binge drinking”. Binge drinking is one of the most common ways teens consume alcohol. Binge drinking is having at least five drinks at one sitting. It’s a way to get drunk very fast. I interviewed a college student from Oregon State University on the topic of binge drinking.
The reply I got was that this type of drinking was the most popular way to initiate students into clubs or organized groups. One of the questions I asked him was if students have to do this to get into the club or group? He replied “no, but you are looked at like a baby who can’t drink, everybody will make fun of you, and you can’t let yourself get a bad reputation at the beginning of college or it will be a long four years. Binge drinking has many dangerous side effects.
Several short-term effects are vomiting, dizziness, and impaired thinking. Long-term effects can be much worse and include things such as poor grades, DUI’s, sexual assaults, fighting, and later on long-term health problems can occur.
The continuing problem of underage drinking has led the government to think of instating a new program that would bring the legal age of drinking down to 18. By age 18 teens are labeled adults and therefore they should be responsible for their own actions. It is in the opinion of many people that if teens had to learn at a younger age to control such habits maybe “binge drinking” would not be as influential as it is in colleges today. Kids are to, worried about being labeled “wimps” that they will do anything to appease their counterparts. This leads to serious implications.
Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant. It affects every organ in the body and long-term use can lead to many preventable diseases such as. According to 1994 Monitoring the Future Survey, alcohol remains the number one substance used by middle school all the way up to high school students. Over 50 percent of 12th graders report drinking alcohol within the past month.
Alcohol lowers inhibitions and impairs judgment which can lead to risky behaviors, including practicing unprotected sex. This can lead to acquiring HIV/AIDS as well as other sexually transmitted diseases, and unwanted pregnancy. In 1993, 40 percent of the 5,905 traffic fatalities of 15- to 20-year olds were alcohol-related. . (MADD, 97)
It is difficult for a teenager to ask for help or even know that they need help. Sometimes the teen and parents finally end their denial when the teen “bottoms out”. Or gets so abuse it drives away friends and family. This usually means that the teen gets into trouble with law enforcement or becomes depressed over their current behavior. It usually takes “bottoming out” for a teen to finally seek help.
Adolescents have a difficult time breaking these habits because to avoid drinking they must also avoid friends. once a teen asks for help than a professional needs to determine whether the teen is an abuser or an alcoholic. Alcoholism is defined as a chronic, progressive disease that causes a person to lose control over his or her drinking.
The alcoholic can’t control how much alcohol he or she drinks even though they know how bad the effects are. If drinking interferes with social, emotional, and physical parts of a teen’s life they are probably suffering from alcohol abuse. But if drinking becomes addictive it’s alcoholism. I interviewed a sixteen-year-old friend who is an alcoholic. I asked him about his life and why he drank. He explained that he drank to get rid of his problems.
His mother is a recovering alcoholic so he was familiar with what happened when he would lose control when he drank. His mother was very aware of the signs. His grades went down, he started skipping classes, he lied to his mother, he was hanging out with friends who drank a lot and were always in trouble. Fortunately, he was given a second chance and he is in a program that is helping him recover.
Teen drinking and alcoholism can be treated if treatment is started early. There is no known cure for alcoholism, but alcoholics can lead productive lives with help. There are many organizations that can help alcoholics such as Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) and Rational Recovery Systems.
There are also organizations that promote abstinence from Drinking such as S.A.D.D. (Students Against Drunk Driving) and M.A.D.D. (Mothers Against Drunk Driving). It is important that teens are aware of everything that drinking involves and its lasting repercussions. If they learned early on about the dangers then they could become responsible adults when drinking alcohol.
Who influences the alcohol use and misuse of British teenagers? Although the health risks of heavy drinking is known and understood, the social habit continues to be accepted as a cultural norm. Is it? Surprising then, that the young people are beginning to drink at school ages. It is illegal to purchase An alcoholic drink under the age of 18, it would appear through the current research that teenage drinking Is commonplace.
A recent Scottish survey by McKegney N et al (1996), found that at least 50% of teenagers by the age of 14 had been drunk one or more occasions. Another National study by McMiller and Plant (1996) showed that 77.9% of 15-16-year-olds have experienced intoxication. 50.3% of these had consumed at least five units of alcohol consecutively within the last 30 days. The evidence is readily available to inform us of the increasing problem of adolescent alcohol misuse and the damaging consequences of this.
How then should children be educated so that alcohol misuse can be prevented and sensible use of alcohol can be advised? May.C (1993), suggests that fact giving information to target populations is the most commonly used approach in health education. Whist knowledge may be tested and be proved to have improved by this method of education, studies have shown that there is a failure to demonstrate a change in attitudes and behaviors.
Other more successful methods of education to change behavior must then be investigated. By improving social assertiveness and self-control it has been described by May.C(1993), have been attempted but these also when evaluated have produced a low success rate. Major media campaigns can be useful in raising public awareness of social problems, although his targets a vast uncontrolled audience and does not always reach the applicable persons. It is expensive and often a political reaction to being seen by the public as addressing a problem.
The family in British society takes on many variations and so behaviors, norms, and cultures differ greatly. Parents are, however role models to their children from infancy, throughout childhood, and into adulthood. Parental behavior and attitudes toward alcohol consumption as with any social behavior is an influential factor that may determine adolescent drinking behavior and indeed future adult drinking behavior.
Foxcroft and Lowe(1991), suggest that British parents, “are for the most part ambivalent about underage drinking and about occasional intoxication? This is a controversial statement that may not be true in all cases. Alcohol is, however, the most widely used recreational drug in our society and it is the accepted norm that the transition from adolescence to adulthood will include experimentation with alcohol.
There is evidence that where the levels of family support and control are low, then there is a higher incidence of adolescent alcohol abuse and misuse. (Foxcroft and Lowe,1991). Teenagers may justify their behavior by comparing the similarities to parents attitudes and behavior.
Heavy drinking parents have been associated with adolescent alcohol misuse (Barnes and Welte,1986). This highlights the important link between parental behavior and their offspring. There is conflicting evidence in this field of research. Schuckit(1984) found those non-alcoholic sons of alcoholic parents showed a greater tolerance for alcohol than matched controls. Is it then surprising that the media has a drastic effect on the alcohol behavior of our youth?
Much research has investigated the effects of advertising of alcohol on teenagers. Atkin et al(1988), discovered that underage drinkers were particularly appreciative and aware of alcohol commercials, thus suggesting that that advertising can reinforce adolescent drinking.
Restrictions on the advertising of alcohol in this country are very lenient. A child of any age can watch a family viewing film at the cinema that begins with the advertising of alcoholic beverages. Sweden has actively shown that the prohibition of alcohol advertising has resulted in a decline in alcohol sales and alcohol-related problems among teenagers.
Hastings et al (1992), investigated the success of alcohol advertising and concluded that “alcohol advertising is getting through to children”. They suggest that the controls are not enough, as evidence shows that tobacco advertising continues to influence young people’s smoking habits despite the restrictions.
Questions can then be raised, as to whether there is a need to totally ban advertising on alcohol. Such legislation would of course have a drastic effect on the drinks industry and therefore on the taxable income of these products. The issue of health versus the economy of any country is a continual political debate and without public pressure, the economy is more likely to win. Arguments would arise highlighting other influences on adolescent drinking behavior, notably parental and peer influences.
Sweet designer alcoholic beverages are now becoming very popular and fashionable. There is the argument that the alcohol industry is actually marketing such products directly to the youth culture.
McKeganey(1996), found that sweet and fruity alcoholic drinks were indeed more popular amongst school children in Dundee than other alcoholic beverages. These drinks often carry bright, Colorful cartoon and childlike images that are associated with advertising products to children and Young People.
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