According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 24.6 percent of people ages18 or older reported that they engaged in binge drinking in the past month; 6.8 percent reported that they engaged in heavy drinking in the past month.
This is an increasing problem among our youth with 697,000 teens ages 12 – 17 being treated for alcohol abuse with 385,000 females and 311,000 males.
I attended a Youth Summit for the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse in the city of Torrance, California where teens were asked the reasons they drank. Peer pressure being one of them. Some of the reason given: were that older friends influenced them to drink, they felt it was the “cool” thing to do, it feels good, and they were imitating people idolized. If you are a parent who drinks a lot with your kids present, think about this before drinking alcohol in their presence.
Even though many realized that others may get uncomfortable with too much drinking and the behavior associated with it, that there was a possibility of blacking out losing their memories of what happened while drunk, and that it could harm their health, teens will still go about their drinking.
For older teens, the problem can be a bit worse as they can get into cars with a drunk driver, or perhaps be a victim of sexual assault during a blackout. These are very serious concerns that need to be strongly enforced while educating our teens as to the possible horrific effects of their or their friends’ drinking habits.
Male teens tend to get angry and aggressive when they drink alcohol which means they can get into fights with others.
If you are a teen who is reading this, here are a 12 questions that you can ask yourself to see if you have an issue that needs some serious thought:
- Do you drink to relax when you have problems?
- Do you drink when you get irritated, frustrated, unhappy or angry?
- Do you prefer to drink alone?
- Are your grades slipping or are you having trouble at work?
- Do you ever try to stop drinking, or drink less, and fail?
- Do you take drinks in the morning?
- Do you guzzle drinks?
- Have you ever forgotten what happened when you were drinking?
- Do you ever lie about your drinking?
- Do you ever get in trouble when you drink?
- Do you get drunk when you drink, even though you don’t want to?
- Do you think it is cool to be able to drink a lot?
Alcoholism is the problem when you can no longer stop your drinking when you so desire. You have reached your tolerance for the alcohol so your body is now addicted to it. It is an illness and can hit anyone regardless of their age. It doesn’t matter how long you have been drinking because everyone’s tolerance for it is different. All that matters is what the alcohol does to you when you drink.
If you answered any one of the questions above with a “yes” it is time for you to get some help with your alcohol problem. You really do want to take care of it before it gets out of hand as happened with one of my clients. He ran his brand new truck into a electric pole creating $3,000 worth of damages. The savings grace is that he walked away and that no one else was involved. Unfortunately, I can’t say the same about another client of mine, who was 17 years old when she saw me. Shehad lost two of her friends from drinking while driving in the preceding 3 years.
The thing that you want to always keep in the back of your mind is that you are ALWAYS AWARE of what you are doing at all times. This way no one can take advantage of you.
If you are at a party and one of your friends is getting very ill, call 911 and get the required help. Alcohol related deaths were the third leading preventable cause of death in this country, many of these involving binge drinking.
The other thing that you need to know is that alcohol use impairs your brain’s ability to develop normally. This is important to recognize especially if you are under the age of 25 when the brain is still developing. I know that many of you teens believe that you are immortal, but the reality of the situation is that you are not. So, please give this information some pause.
Most of all do what you can to help yourself to feel happy and fulfilled with your life. If you aren’t feeling that good about yourself for whatever reason, get yourself some help to build up your sense of self-esteem and love for yourself. Because the truth of the matter is that if you feel good about yourself and those things that you are doing with your life, there is no reason to over drink, ever. People drink because they don’t like the thoughts going around and around in their heads telling them that they are “stupid,“ worthless” or having feelings of guilt of shame. So, again, if you have these sorts of thoughts going around in your head, do yourself a favor and get some help to find those things that are special about you, those things that you are good at and enjoy doing. By taking this action you will rarely find the desire to drink to be present. You will be happy and fulfilled and enjoying your life the way any teen has the right to feel.
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