Essay on Alcohol Abuse Among Teens   no comments

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In today’s society alcohol abuse among teenagers and college students is becoming a serious problem. “The total amount of alcohol consumed by college students each year is four hundred and thirty million gallons enough for every college and university in the United States to fill an Olympic size swimming pool.” (“Facts and Statistics”) Alcohol abuse can be defined as a pattern of excessive alcohol consumption that produces maladaptive behavioral changes in which drinking can become the central activity in an individual’s life. (Kishline 107) Alcoholism is steadily growing among teenagers and resulting in many harmful side effects. To understand these effects you need to ask why they drink, when they drink, are teens who drink more likely to get into or cause trouble and how can this be prevented.

There are several reasons why teens and college students drink. One reason teens drink is because of peer pressure. One hardly ever hears of someone taking their first drink by themselves. People usually take their first drink in the company of friends. Seventy percent of young drinkers say they started drinking because of their friends. (Clark 17) Most college students drink at parties, and other functions because everyone else is drinking. There is pressure for them to be part of the crowd.

Another reason teens and college students drink is because of stress. An example of this is students drinking before a test to take the edge off. Some teens turn to drinking when they are frustrated. For example students who are doing poorly in class may turn to alcohol rather than deal with the problem.

Another reason teens may drink is because drinking is popularized by movies as well as television. Almost all teen movies glamorize drinking. For example the movie Varsity Blues, after every winning football game there is a victory party where all the players are getting drunk and having a great time. The movies show only the glamour and fun of drinking. The movies never show any of the consequences of drinking.

Many teens and college students drink simply because there is nothing else to do. They drink because they are bored. This happens frequently in small towns and in rural areas. Many teens in rural areas ride around on gravel roads at night and get drunk. This is their form of entertainment on weekends.

Weekends are the most common time teens and college students drink. This is because teens can stay out later on weekends usually. Weekends are also popular times to drink because of no school the next day. However teens and college students do not limit their drinking to weekends only. Many teens and college students drink daily. “Almost four percent of all college students drink daily.” (“Facts and Statistics”)
Teens and college students also drink more in the summer with a common summer routine involving working then going out and drinking and still having time to recover before the next morning. (Harrington-Lueker) Teens also have more money in the summer because they are working. Plus students usually still get their allowances during the summer, so that means even more money available to them to buy alcohol. Parents also take more vacations in the summer leaving teens at home alone, This gives more possibilities for parties to occur in the summer. Also teens are going on vacations by themselves. These vacations can lead to times of heavy drinking.

Studies show that teens and college students who drink get into more trouble than those who abstain. Figures from the United States Department of Justice state that twenty-seven percent of all murders, thirty-one percent of all rapes, and thirty-seven percent of all robberies committed by young people are associated with drinking. (Harrinton-Lueker)

In other studies West and Farrington (1977) found that from a sample of young people judged to be “heavy drinkers” a high proportion committed delinquent acts. Sleap (1977) found that forty percent of young offenders in English penal institutions were “problem drinkers”. Fuller (1979) found that thirty percent of the young offenders in a Wales institution were “problem drinkers”. Hollin (1983) found that thirty-nine percent of young offenders thought their drinking and delinquency were related to each other. (Mc Murran; Hollin pg7)
Alcohol use is also associated with between one-third and two-thirds of all date rape. The United States Surgeon General’s office found that nearly two in five boys and one in five girls believe it is “ok to force sex if the girl is drunk”. (Harrington-Lueker)

Alcohol abuse can also take a toll on academic performance and university life. Alcohol is implicated in some forty-one percent of all academic problems and twenty-eight percent of all dropouts. Young people who drink are twice as likely to receive C’s in school. (Bender pg. 43; 73) Alcohol abuse can rob teens and college students of a chance to succeed in school. Teens and college students need to be aware of the academic problems alcohol abuse can cause.

What can be done to prevent alcohol abuse among teens and college students. There are several programs and support groups whose goals are to prevent alcohol abuse among teens and college students.
One of the best know is MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving), which was launched in 1980 bye Candy Lightner; whose daughter was killed by a drunk driver. MADD lobbies for tougher enforcement of drinking age laws. (Clark)

Another alcohol awareness group is BACCHUS. BACCHUS is the best-known college level alcohol awareness group. BACCHUS has over five hundred campus chapters nationwide. BACCHUS encourages young people to develop responsible habits and attitudes for a non-preachy approach. BACCHUS does not label alcohol as good or bad, but they try to teach responsible habits and attitudes. (Clark)

Another group is SADD(Students Against Driving Drunk). SADD is aimed primarily at high-school students. SADD helps organize alcohol-free proms and parties. Their key too is its “Contract for Life.” A contract signed by students and their parents. The contract says students will not drink and drive but they will instead call their parents for a ride. In return the parents are to pick up their children with no questions asked. (Clark)
Another program aimed at preventing alcohol abuse is the DARE program. It is aimed at educating mainly fifth and sixth grades against the dangers of alcohol abuse. The DARE program uses police officers that go into schools and talk to students about the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse. (Bender pg. 96-97)
For any prevention methods to be successful at curbing alcohol abuse among teens and college students, there must be community, school, and parent involvement. The community must offer teens and college students alternatives to drinking.

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