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Home > Health > Article

Tips for Teens: The Truth About Alcohol

by John Edward Gill



© Carl Durocher - Fotolia.com All rights reserved.

Teen Slang for Alcohol -Booze, Sauce, Brews, Brewskis, Hooch, Hard Stuff, Juice

Alcohol affects the brain.

Drinking alcohol leads to a loss of coordination, poor judgment, slowed reflexes, distorted vision, memory lapses, and even blackouts.

Alcohol affects the body.

Alcohol can damage every organ in one's body. It is absorbed directly into the bloodstream and can increase risks for a variety of life-threatening diseases, including cancer.

Alcohol affects self-control.

Alcohol depresses a person's central nervous system, lowers inhibitions,and impairs judgment. Drinking can lead to risky behaviors, including having unprotected sex. This may expose people to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases or cause unwanted pregnancy.

Alcohol can kill.

Drinking large amounts of alcohol can lead to coma or even death. Also, in 1998, 35.8 percent of traffic deaths of 15- to 20-year-olds were alcohol-related.

Alcohol can hurt others--even if they're not the ones drinking.

If teenagers are around people who are drinking, they have an increased risk of being seriously injured, involved in car crashes, or affected by violence. At the very least, they may have to deal with people who are sick, out of control, or unable to take care of themselves.

Know the law. It is illegal for anyone under 21 to buy or possess alcohol.

Get the facts.

  • One drink can make someone fail a breath test.
  • In some states, people under the age of 21 who are found to have any amount of alcohol in their systems can lose their driver's license, be subject to aheavy fine, or have their car permanently taken away.

    Stay informed.

  • "Binge" drinking means having five or more drinks on one occasion. About 15 percent of teens are binge drinkers in any given month.

    Know the risks.

  • Mixing alcohol with medications or illicit drugs is extremely dangerous and can lead to accidental death. For example, alcohol-medication interactions may be a factor in at least 25 percent of emergency room admissions.
  • Keep your edge. Know how alcohol affects others.
  • Alcohol can make a person gain weight and produce bad breath.
  • Most teens aren't drinking alcohol. Research shows that 70 percent of people 12-20 haven't had a drink in the past month. But they have probably tried it already.

    How can someone tell if a friend has a drinking problem?

    Sometimes it's tough to tell. But there are signs to look for. If friends have one or more of the following warning signs, he or she may have a problemwith alcohol:

  • Getting drunk on a regular basis
  • Lying about how much alcohol he or she is using
  • Believing that alcohol is necessary to have fun
  • Having frequent hangovers
  • Feeling run-down, depressed, or even suicidal
  • Having "blackouts"--forgetting what he or she did while drinking
  • Having problems at school or getting in trouble with the law

    What can teenagers do to help someone who has a drinking problem?

  • Be a real friend. You might even save a life.
  • Encourage your friend to stop or seek professional help.
  • For information and referrals, call the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 800-729-6686.

    Learn about Alcohol; Know answers to these questions:

    Q. Aren't beer and wine "safer" than liquor?
    A. No. One 12-ounce beer has about as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a wine cooler.

    Q. Why can't teens drink if their parents can?
    A. Teens' bodies are still developing and alcohol has a greater impact on their physical and mental well-being. For example, people who begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop alcoholism than those whobegin at age 21.

    Q. How can one say no to alcohol?
    A. It's not as hard to refuse as one might think. Try: "No thanks," "I don'tdrink," or "I'm not interested."

    To learn more about alcohol or obtain referrals to programs in your community, remember to contact that hotline:
    SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information,
    800-729-6686
    TDD 800-487-4889
    linea gratis en español 877-767-8432
    Web site: ncadi.samhsa.gov
    Curious about the TV ads of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign? Check out the Web site at http://www.freevibe.com or visit the Office of National Drug Control Policy Web site at http://www.whitehousedrugpolicy.gov.

    The bottom line:

  • If there is someone who has a problem with alcohol, urge him or her to stop or get help.
  • And, if one drinks--stop!
  • The longer people ignore the real facts, the more chances they take with their lives.
  • It's never too late. Talk to parents, doctors, counselors, teachers, or another trusted adult. Do it today!

    SAMHSA's* National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) is the Nation's one-stop resource for information about substance abuse prevention and addiction treatment.

    Its staff have both English- and Spanish-speaking information specialists who are skilled at recommending appropriate publications, posters, and videocassettes; conducting customized searches; providing grant and funding information; and referring people to appropriate organizations.

    They are available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to take calls at 1-800-729-6686.

    *SAMHSA is the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration of the U. S. Department of Health and Human Services



    Footnotes:
    1. Fatality Analysis Reporting System. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, 1998.
    2. 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Substance Abuse and Mental
    Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 1998.
    3. Holder, H.D. Effects of Alcohol, Alone and in Combination with Medications. Walnut Creek, CA: Prevention Research Center, 1992.
    4. 1998 National Household Survey. (SAMHSA), 1998.
    5. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism press release. January 14, 1998.



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    FatherMag.com. All rights reserved.
    FatherMag.com authors retain their right to republish elsewhere.



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