What do you say when your friends offer you an alcoholic drink? Do you say "no"? Or do you take it? Do you drink it or pretend to sip it?
Every day, eleven teenagers are killed in alcohol-influenced accidents according to the Teenage Health Interactive Network website (http://library.thinkquest.org/29500/addictions/alcohol.states.shtml). Nearly 400 teens are injured each day in accidents involving alcohol. Approximately 30,000 teens a year.
WHY DO PEOPLE DRINK?
To escape the pressures of doing well in school, arguing parents and not fitting in with their friends. In 1991, ten point six million people in junior and senior high school drank. Eight million of those drank weekly. Fifty-four percent of teens who drink started between the ages of thirteen and fifteen.
HOW DOES ALCOHOL AFFECT YOU?
Instead of breaking down by enzymes in the stomach like food is, alcohol moves from the stomach and intestines into the blood stream. From there, it is carried to every part of the body. It is processed through the liver, which break down the alcohol into water and carbon dioxide.
When the alcohol builds up in the bloodstream, then the person considered intoxicated or drunk. The exact amount of alcohol that is measurable in the bloodstream after drinking is considered the blood alcohol content.
As your blood alcohol level rises to .01-.05%, you may feel mildly pleasurable and relaxed. You have an increased chance of an accident since more vehicular steering errors occur with this much alcohol in your system.
By the time you have a .08% blood alcohol content, you are less alert and less patient. You aren't able to concentrate or make rational decisions as readily as when you are sober. Your reaction time and coordination become impaired. You are three or four times more likely to crash a car. Some states, such as Arizona, are trying to get the law changed so people who have a blood alcohol level of .08% can be charged with Drinking Under the Influence.
At .10%, your coordination and balance are more impaired. Your movements become more clumsy, and your speech is slurred. You might vomit. If you drive, you are six times more likely to get into an accident. In most states, driving while having a .10% alcohol level is considered driving while under the influence of alcohol.
When the alcohol in your bloodstream reaches .20%, you are very drunk and loud. You are difficult to understand. Walking and talking become tough. You have trouble driving and with vehicle movements. You are twenty-five times more likely to be in a car accident.
At .50%, you will lapse into a coma and maybe even die due to alcohol poisoning.
WHO ARE PROBLEM DRINKERS
Problem drinkers are usually teens who have been drunk six times or more in the past year. They have experienced problems because of their drinking in school, friendships, dating or family. Some even have troubles with the local police.
To find out if you are a problem drinker, answer the following questions:
- When you drink is your intent to get drunk?
- Do you drink to escape what's bothering you?
- Do you become angry, silly, sloppy, loud, violent or afraid
when you drink?
- Do you get angry with people who won't drink?
ARE YOU IN DANGER?
Are you at risk of becoming addicted to alcohol? Could you have a problem? Study the following questions to find out:
- Do your parents, siblings or anyone in your family have
an alcohol or drug abuse problem?
- Does any adult in your family drink to avoid dealing with
- Do you, or anyone in your family, smoke cigarettes?
- Do you feel unwanted, unacceptable or unloved by your
- Are the rules your parents have set down unusually strict
- Do you often feel like you aren't fitting in?
- Do you feel that you are less smart, attractive or popular
than other people your age?
- Do you have problems concentrating? Do you hate school,
lack the energy or desire to do your school work?
- Do you enjoy breaking the rules or participating in other activities that make the people around, especially your
- Have you turned against your parent's religion?
- Are you always seeking a thrill, such as drinking too fast?
- Do you find yourself spending more and more time alone?
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, it could signal that you have a drinking problem or could potentially have one.
WHAT SHOULD YOU DO IF YOU THINK YOU HAVE A PROBLEM?
Talk To Your Parents. Although bringing up alcohol in your parents' presence might give you cold chills, it is the best course of action. Find a convenient time to talk to them. Pick a time when they are relaxed. Choose a place to meet where you won't be interrupted. Set up an appointment with them by saying something like, "Mom, Dad, I want to discuss something important with you. Would tonight after dinner be a good time?"
Plan what you want to say beforehand. Make notes, if it will make you feel more comfortable. Rehearse what you want to say to yourself in front of the mirror.
When you speak with your parents, be sure not to use angry tones and blame them. If you keep the conversation free of angry words and blame, your parents will be more apt to listen to what you have to say.
After you have expressed your side of the story, listen tot what your parents have to say. You expected them to give you the same consideration. Seek to understand why they feel the way they do.
Although your parents may be angry and disappointed that you have been drinking, they may also be proud of you for recognizing that you have a problem and were mature enough to ask for help.
Options for problem drinkers include support groups, such as the twelve-step programs, Alcoholics Anonymous, rehabilitation clinics and counselors. The best solution, however, is to always go to your parents first. With their help, you can find a treatment program that works best for you.
FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Alcoholics Anonymous - To find where this self-help group meets or more information about Alcoholics Anonymous, look for "Alcoholics Anonymous" in your local phone book.
Youth Crisis Hotline - (800) 448-4663
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