Monday, July 9, 2007

Teen drinking still a serious problem

Each day, 5,400 American citizens under the age of 16 take their first drink of alcohol. Some might say that this is one of the primary substance abuse problems in the United States.

In connection with teen drinking is the alarming fact that teens who have had their license for a comparatively short period of time are drinking and driving. Teen drinking doesn't just affect people who come from slums or broken families. It affects the family who lives two houses down from you. It affects your local officials' children, senators and even our own beloved president and his daughters.

A study done by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services reported that roughly 2.6 million teenagers are unaware that a person can die from an alcohol overdose. Oblivious to this startling fact, teens will drink until they can no longer see, unconscious of their body's decay. These devastating occurrences happen most frequently on the premises of college campuses.

Alcohol depresses nerves that manage involuntary actions such as breathing, the heartbeat and gag reflexes that thwart suffocation. A fatal dose of alcohol will eventually hinder these functions. After the victim stops drinking, the heart continues to beat, and the alcohol in the stomach still enters the bloodstream and circulates through the system.

Various credible surveys released by the Department of Health and Human Services have reported that white male youths have the highest likeliness to drink. White females fall second. Although minorities are often scapegoated as lawbreakers, youths of African-American and Asian descent tend to drink the least, even though there is still quite a high portion that do choose to.

The adolescents of the United States have benefited greatly from the raise in the drinking age. European youths suffer deeply with their ability to drink at an earlier age, and the statistics from a survey done by the European School Survey on Alcohol and Drugs illustrate that the general percentage of binge drinkers is overwhelming. Eighteen may not be a ripe enough age for teens to muster up the gumption to fight off their demons and refrain from drinking in excess.

Approximately three adolescents are killed each day in the United States due to accidents caused by driver under the influence of alcohol.

You may ask yourself how these teens are acquiring their alcohol. I can say from experience that it's quite easy to find a loop in restrictions. Often times teens are able to find an older acquaintance to purchase alcohol for them for a small fee. Inadequate enforcement allows unscrupulous retailers to sell to people who are underage. Increased penalties for alcohol merchants may make them tighten their morals.

Now, I could go on for days about the current teen binge drinking epidemic, but what's really needed is a solution. Some might say that there is no straight shot in this case, and I'm in agreement with them. While I'm not one of those nuts who believe that all of children's wrongdoings derive from poor parenting, I do believe that a parent's concern may halt kids from drowning themselves in liquor.

I also believe that more youth programs such as Big Brothers Big Sisters type of organizations would provide much-needed assistance, and maybe allow youngsters to cease peer-pressuring one another to involve themselves in a potentially life threatening activity.

Some states have already taken the initiative to ban outdoor alcohol advertising. Maryland is one of these states. They have banned billboards advertising alcohol. Advertising for alcohol is seemingly everywhere, and it doesn't help youths keep their minds from wandering into that direction when everywhere they look is a public notice influencing them to use alcohol. I believe that if Massachusetts followed in their footsteps, it may make great headway.

An idea that might squash urges for some teens to drink is to ban advertisements for alcohol on certain channels that teens frequent. This could prove to be difficult though, for many of these channels are said not to be produced for this age group. If the cable executives could put some sort of restrictions on when they air alcohol commercials, we might be able to salvage some livers.


source: South Coast Today

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