Sunday, January 21, 2007

The Epidemic of Teenage Drinking

I'm currently watching Do as I Say, on ABC. Today's Episode is titled: "On the Rocks: The Epidemic of Teenage Drinking." I am actually horrified watching this program. I was one of those "good" kids, which meant that I didn't start drinking alcohol until I was 21. I remember seeing kids in my junior high school drinking beer and wine coolers before school started. They would go to the stores nearest to the school and steal them. Then they'd go to the park to drink.

My mother doesn't drink much. My father didn't either, god knows he had his other vices, but drinking wasn't one of them. My grandmother was probably the only adult that I was aware of that drank on a regular basis. She passed away almost ten years ago from an unexpected bout with cancer. It was short and I am happy that she didn't suffer from it. She was about 55 when she was gone. I digress. I only brought up my grandmother to show that she and my grandfather, when he snuck a drink or two, were the only two adults that I really ever saw have a drink.

Many of the neighborhood kids did drink. They'd go to parties and come home wasted. That was during the early nineties. Snoop Dog's "Gin and Juice" was out and it was the poison of choice amongst many of my peers. I couldn't understand what the enjoyment was of coming home and throwing up--and truth be told I was afraid of my mother's actions if I ever came home high from alcohol/narcotics. I was one of those kids that was obsessed with my future. Therefore, alcohol and drugs weren't on my agenda.

Similarly, I didn't really start drinking until I was about to turn 22. By that time I had a full time job and a college degree. I was a social drinker and have always maintained control over my behavior when I do drink.

Well I guess that's why I was horrified when watching the special. The commentators mentioned that teenagers drink to get drunk. They aren't drinking to get buzzed and they really can't regulate their level of intoxication effectively. They tend to become impulsive: violent, lascivious, etc.

Now don't think I'm being hard on teenagers. I know that adults display the same type of behavior as these teenagers. However, the show displayed the brains of teenagers that drink and those that don't. You could see the damage that the binge drinking did compared to those who didn't. The long term damages were irreparable.

Then I started thinking about teenage drinking and driving. I don't know the whole shabazz upset me. There is so much promise. To tell you the truth I don't like the message that you have to drink to have a great time, or drink to get drunk. I don't think that's a good message, for teenagers or adults. I can attest to this drinking water at parties at times and having just as much fun as I did when I did drink.

I just feel for the parents that were dealing with the children who were drinking. You saw children with straight As have severe drops in their grades. Some started acting out.

One set of parents sponsored a party where children could drink, kind of a don't ask don't tell type deal. Well they didn't regulate the party. You can guess that things went out of hand quickly. One altercation involved a drunk teen throwing gasoline on a rivals car and then setting it on fire. A girl in the car was severely burned.

I don't have an answer to fix this problem. I'm not a parent and haven't dealt with it. I saw that the show advised parents not to have alcohol in easily accessible locations, to talk to your children about the behavior that is accepted in your household, and to talk about the long term effects of drinking.

Anyway if you want to check out more of what the special had to offer take a look at the website below:

Connect With Kids


coldploy said...

It's one of the social problems you couldn't find a solution. I once was a drinker when i was in college. However, I knew what I did and was responsible for my actions. Now I've grown up. One beer at Burger Joint with good friends really made my day.

Al said...

Yeah, it's pretty scary out there for teenagers. My town has, in my opinion, a huge underage drinking problem. Nothing big has happened yet, but I'm afraid that not even a drunken driving death would get through to these kids. I don't know what will, and I think that's what scares me most, it's like they're immune to everything and they never have to take responsibility for their actions because if they get in trouble with the police or the school, their parents threaten to sue and the town "can't afford" a lawsuit of that nature. It's pathetic! grrr. I guess the solution lies in parenting. Lord knows that's why I didn't drink til college - the wrath of sgt. mike would've been unbearable, and he would have been the easier of the two to deal with!

Excalibur said...

Boy I read both of your comments. They are both insightful and definitely valid.

I had a family member that used to drink to get drunk as a teen and a few bouts with the toilet cleared that.

Hearing the kids talk about getting wasted really irritated me. I just thought you have all of your life in front of you. Why throw it away because of that.

Ploy a beer at a burger joint was really cool! It puts it into perspective that it's not the drinks that make you have a fun time--but you.

T1 said...

I can tell you I have definetely fallen victim to having too much to drink and not being very responsible about. I never drove but I definetely have gotten patheticly drunk. Well I got Mono a few years back and it disupted my liver functions so quickly and so fiercely.

After, I was just afraid to drink much.Now im with the Gran Sugar and he NEVER Drinks. I have the occassional glass of wine but since my guy doesnt drink it makes it a lot elss fun for me.

I wasn't a drunk teenager.But my first drink came from my dad. He let me have a wine cooler or two in his presence. His feeling was if he didnt make an issue over it
it wouldnt be so glamourous for me.
He was right. He did the same thing when it came to sex. He told me about how own my body etc.. he did a few things right.

Excalibur said...

T1 yeah that's totally true. One of my coworkers is going to put up a comment on the blog too. I did have a sip a champagne for New Years when I was young, which knocked us out.

My dad probably let us try beer when I was really young, around all of his friends--you know during the politically incorrect 80s. I'm sure the taste traumatized me. My brother liked it though, LOL.

I probably had a couple of sips from wine coolers too and I think you're right--it made us less inquisitive.

Well in regards to sex my parents were super open. I think that traumatized me a bit as well, LOL.

Your dad did a lot right.