Teen alcoholism is a problem that has been plaguing the United States for many decades now. The legal age for alcohol consumption is twenty-one years old in every state of the United States, but this law is commonly broken. The fact that it has not been strictly enforced caused an outbreak of alcohol consumption between minors all over, and because of this, we have been accepting teenage drinking more than ever. The problem lies in the lack of law enforcement, the acceptance by parents and guardians, and the overall attitude of teenagers themselves.
Although there are many ways to attempt to treat alcoholism, we find few solutions to be effective (Cristol, 2002). Alcoholism is defined as a disorder characterized by the excessive consumption of and dependence on alcoholic beverages, leading to physical and psychological harm and impaired social and vocational functioning. Alcohol is a huge problem in high school and in college. Twenty-one may be the legal drinking age, but some how minors find a way to get a hold of alcohol. People as young as fifteen are able to get their hands on an alcoholic beverage.
Alcohol is said to be the chosen drug among high school and college students. Underage drinkers have a tendency to drink more then the general population. It is said that high school students spend approximately $4. 2 billion annually on alcohol. This money is spent on 430 gallons of alcoholic beverages, and 4 million cans of beer. The type of school, location, the ethnic and gender makeup plays a role in the amount of drinking that occurs among students (USA Today[a], 2003). Studies show that students drink more when they are in a group, which speaks to peer influences.
When it comes to drinking at parties there is no legal age so to speak. When someone goes to a party they don’t get carded, they get a cup. Studies show that students between the ages of 16-21 drink more then those that are over 21. Statistics show that the younger the person the more he or she drinks. Forty one percent of students report to binge drinking, and nearly four percent drink daily. Binge drinking is defined as four drinks for a women in one sitting, and five drinks for a male in one sitting.
Students that binge drink have even more problems then students who don’t. Binge drinkers are more likely to have hangovers and engage themselves in unplanned sexual activity. There are endless consequences that come with drinking. A range of problems occur due to alcohol consumption. The most popular problem that occurs with drinking is academic problems, others include things such as trauma, date rape, recklessness, vandalism and pregnancy in women. In a recent study 56,000 students reported a slip in their grades.
Students went from an A to D’s and F’s, their GPA’s dropped which will effects their future career plans as well as any scholarships they are receiving or attempting to receive (MADD[a], 2004). Alcoholism is the most common drug abuse problem in the United States. Eleven million Americans suffer from it. This abuse occurs in several different ways: loss of control over drinking, getting drunk daily, or drinking every weekend. It is usually marked by withdrawal symptoms and by increasing tolerance for alcohol. It is a chronic, progressive, relapsing brain disease.
Five percent of Americans die of alcoholism and ninety-five percent of alcoholics die of alcoholism. Its physical, social, and psychological effects tend to get progressively worse (Song, 2003). Is alcoholism genetic or is it due to lack of self-control? Through research, Dr. Robert R. Perkinson attests that alcoholism is nothing to be ashamed of because it is genetic. There are different genetic types of alcoholism. Perkinson distinguished two forms of alcoholism. One type is an environmental related type of alcoholism, associated with recurrent alcohol abuse, but without criminality in the biological parents.
The other type was found to be highly heritable and was associated with alcohol abuse in the biological parents (Cristol, 2002). The environmental alcoholism occurs in both men and women, has a later age of onset, is less severe, and is not often associated with social problems such as fighting and arrests. The second type is known as the male-limited alcoholism, occurs mainly in males and has an earlier age of onset, a more severe course, and more alcohol-related social problems (Cristol, 2002). An alcoholic is not the only person affected. Family members are often drawn into this life of darkness.
Not only is the divorce rate higher among alcoholics, but research completed by the American Institute for Prevention of Medicine notes that children of alcoholics are four times more likely to become alcoholics and have long lasting emotional problems (Cristol, 2002). Also, alcohol consumption has devastating results when mixed with the operation of a motor vehicle. The more a person drinks, the more their ability to operate a motor vehicle becomes more dangerous. After just one drink, a driver can lose their ability to perform the task to drive a car.
In fact, a driver will become illegally intoxicated and can be arrested for attempting to operate a motor vehicle. In every state there is a legal to how much alcohol you can have in your body if you’re driving. If you drink and drive you can loses your driver’s license and even go to jail. Traffic crashes is the effect of driving a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, too. More than 5,000 young people die every year in car crashes and 1,000 more than injured. There is another reason why teens are in danger after they drink and driving.
Teens drive faster and don’t control the car as well as an experienced driver, especially after when they drink (USA Today[b], 2003). Though there are many ways to go about treating alcoholism, the best way is the confront the issue and make yourself quit. It is a tedious and frustrating thing to do, so there are many groups and organizations out there to help you get through it. Alcoholism is a very serious problem that usually takes years of counseling and support to overcome. The physical and mental symptoms of withdrawal from alcohol make it extremely difficult for one to quit.
At one time, doctors believed that alcoholics deserved this “punishment” for indulging in alcohol. However, today we know that a person who goes through several periods of withdrawal symptoms can end up with permanent brain damage (Steiner, 2003). There are many ways to treat the problem of teen alcoholism and to prevent this problem from happening to teens at all. According to Derek Miller, a professor of adolescent psychiatry at Northwestern University, parents who set a good example for their children is a good way to prevent their children from abusing alcohol.
He says that children tend to mimic their parents, and if the parents don’t drink, their children probably wont either. Others say that knowledge is the key to help teens with drinking problems. They say that learning the truth will help teens with their problems (Steiner, 2003). Many teens are not able to stop on their own so they need someone to help them. Because teens need someone to help them, there have been many self-help programs and organizations set up to help. For many teens self-help programs like Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) might be the best way to get help.
In Alcoholics Anonymous, people help each other with their drinking problems by offering each other support and advice. Alcoholics Anonymous now has about 2 million members worldwide, and in the United States over 50,000 of these groups meet regularly. Being around others who are going through the same hardships that you are is both comforting and encouraging for those who want to stop abusing alcohol. In addition to Alcoholics Anonymous, many churches and synagogues may have self-help groups to help people with their alcoholism problems.
At many alcohol treatment groups they ask you to take a simple test to see if you have a problem with alcohol. They ask you not to drink when everyone else is drinking and then to see if you feel comfortable like that (USA Today[a], 2003). Also, today we are seeing more programs like Student Assistance Programs where schools get involved and help teens with their alcohol problems. Schools are trying to help in anyway they can now. In fact there is a new program in Minnesota called Sobriety High, where young teen alcoholics can recover and get help with others of their same age.
Sobriety High is a 6-year high school. The students there et no homework but they still get the same amount of education as all other public high school students (Steiner, 2003). Hopefully, by using these alcohol treatment programs and all other means to help stop teenagers from drinking we will cut down on the problem of underage drinking and prevent many problems that may occur due to underage drinking. Maybe by stopping the problem of teen drinking, we will stop other problems such as crime as well. For example, in California it was proven that an increase of alcoholism treatment results in a decrease in crime.
In the past few years the problem of teen drinking has started to decrease, but we need to make sure it continues to do so in the future (USA Today[a], 2003). When you are unsure of whether you need to join one of these groups to help your problem, you can ask yourself how bad your problem really is. Here is a list of questions that teens should ask themselves to see if they have a potential of becoming an alcoholic: Question number one: Do you miss full days of school or class periods because of drinking? Question number two: Do you drink to build up self-confidence?
Question number three: Does drinking affect your reputation? Question number four: Do you drink to escape school or home worries? Question number five: Does it bother you when people say you drink too much? Question number six: Do you need to drink before going on a date? Question number seven: Do you get in to money problems because of buying alcoholic beverages? Question number eight: Have you lost friends since you have been drinking? Question number nine: Do you hang out with a crowd of heavy drinkers? Question number ten: Do your old friends drink less than you?
Question number eleven: Do you drink until there isn’t anything left? Question number twelve: Have you ever-lost memory from drinking? Question number thirteen: Have you ever been stopped or arrested by police, or put into a hospital because of drunkenness? Question number fourteen: Do class lectures about drinking bother you? Question number fifteen: Do you think you have a drinking problem (Steiner, 2003)? If they answer yes to at least three questions they are either an alcoholic or have a high potential of becoming one. If they answer yes to one of these questions they should be alarmed.
There are thirteen steps in alcoholism. Step one is beginning to drink because one feels the liquor is taken in moderation serves a social purpose. Step two is when one has been intoxicated regularly. When one thinks liquor means more to him than it does to others and they start sneaking drinks and making alibis they are in step three. Step four is one regularly consumes more alcohol than intended. One will make excuses for why he drinks during step five. In step six one will drink for a “quick-eye opener” Step seven is when one will be commenced to heavy drinking alone while before he only drank with others.
During step eight he becomes antisocial and self-conscious. Step ten is when one starts to feel sorry for himself during his time of soberness but he soon blames the world for his drinking. In step eleven he feels anxiety and fear. He begins doing anything to maintain his supply. During step twelve one faces the truth about their alcoholism. In the final step they will get help in an organization such as Alcoholics Anonymous (Steiner, 2003). Another solution to the alcoholism problem are certain laws against alcohol consumption. There have been numerous related bills in Congress covering the issue of underage drinking in the United States.
The first of these were a series of prohibition bills in the 1850’s, followed by the national prohibition bills in the 1920’s, then several bills in the recent decades, a few of which are covered below. The main issue in each of these bills involved limiting of alcohol altogether, though each also included issues dealing with establishment of a legal age at which alcohol could be or was consumed (MADD[a], 2004). History in this overall subject seems overly concerned with the “image” or “ideal” in the US that by having a mandated lower age, 18-year-olds are afforded better protection against harm.
In each case, though, the legislative history indicates testimony that refutes these facts, followed by a diversion into other related issues that then bog down the legislative process. In the 1920’s, the issue that clouded matters involved the rise of organized crime’s influence on the nation. This event, just like other related issues below on more recent legislation, resulted in the shifting of public focus away from the real issue to something that could be supported politically.
The end result of all of the early bills was that the fair hearing of an “age issue” regarding alcohol never received truly focused study (Steiner, 2003). Recent debates on bills involving the drinking age continue the earlier history of real issue avoidance. Three examples include: – Surface Transportation Act of 1982: This Bill demanded that States raise their legal drinking age to 21 within 2 years or lose a portion of the federal highway funds that were made available for road and highway improvements and drunk driving safety programs.
Instead of the debate involving a factual analysis of the 18-21 year old drinking problem, legislative debate focused on state’s rights vs. federalism, allocations of funds to rural vs. urban-influenced states, Constitutional questions involving federal expansion vs. individual State sovereignty, or dangers of drunk driving (which no one at any age could hardly justify).
The bill managed to be passed without controversial provisions, and with the drinking age limitations being tabled for discussion in committee on other related bills (MADD[b], 2004). – Uniform Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984: This Bill picked up where the other left off, essentially raising the same issues and resulting in the same diversion of attention away from the real issue. Instead, the Bill focused on debates allowing a six-year, ease-in period for establishment of a cutback on transportation funds if a state does not pass mandated 21-year old drinking age exclusion.
Hence, it became known as the “21-year old minimum drinking” law, even though the real issues debated involved states rights vs. ederalism and drunk driving problems again, instead of a study of 18-21 year old drinking issues and problems (MADD[b], 2004). — National Media Campaign to Prevent Underage Drinking Act of 2001: This Bill, unlike the other two, simply outlined the need for and funding avenues for a public education and media campaign against underage drinking.
The Bill focused on strategies for putting media messages on drunk driving and underage drinking in movies, on billboards, and in a whole series of campaigns vs. ny analysis of the drinking problem itself. Again, most 18-year olds would not argue the need for drunk driving restrictions, which should be equally applied at all ages. This Bill, like others, simply avoided the 18-21 year old issue entirely by referring simply to “underage drinking” and making an unsupported direct tie in ad focus to the 18-21 population (MADD[b], 2004). The state of Pennsylvania, in particular, has many alcohol related laws designed to keep people from abusing alcohol.
Here is a breakdown of many of the laws: Fake ID: A statute that creates an offense for an underage person to use a fraudulent ID and provides for a driver’s license suspension for attempting to purchase alcohol using a false ID. .08 Per Se: Law that makes it illegal to operate a motor vehicle at or above . 08 Blood Alcohol Concentration. Anti-Plea Bargaining: A statute, case law or policy that prohibits plea bargaining or reducing an alcohol-related offense to a non-alcohol related offense.
Dram Shop: A term referring to liability of establishments arising out of the sale of alcohol to obviously intoxicated persons or minor who subsequently cause death or injury to third-parties as a result of alcohol-related crashes. Graduated Drivers Licensing: Graduated Drivers Licensing: a three-tiered licensing system under which novice drivers are given full driving privileges gradually, after an extended period of education, supervised driving with nighttime restrictions and citation and alcohol-free driving record.
High BAC: High BAC refers to a driver who drives with a blood alcohol concentration of . 15 or higher at the time of arrest. High-BAC offenders require additional sanctions and treatment that “normal” DUI sanctions cannot provide. Hospital BAC Reporting: A statute which requires or authorizes hospital personnel to report blood alcohol test results of drivers involved in crashes to local law enforcement where the results are available as a result of treatment. Ignition Interlock: Taken in effect after a second offense of High BAC.
A device installed in an offender’s vehicle that prevents it from starting if the driver’s BAC is above a specified set limit. Mandatory Alcohol Assessment/Treatment: Mandatory alcohol assessment and treatment: law than mandates that convicted DUI/DWI offenders undergo an assessment of alcohol abuse problems and participate in required treatment program. Mandatory Alcohol Education: A law which mandates that convicted DUI/DWI offenders complete a an alcohol education program before driving privileges can be reinstated.
Mandatory BAC Testing for Drivers who Survive: Mandatory blood alcohol testing of all drivers involved in serious injury crashes who survive. Mandatory Jail 2nd Offense: A statute that mandates an individual who has been convicted of a second offense of DUI/DWI receive a jail term as part of the sanctions he/she receives. Open Container Law that is TEA-21 Compliant: Open container laws prohibit the possession of any open alcoholic beverage container and the consumption of any alcoholic beverage in the passenger area of a motor vehicle.
Since every state has laws to prevent and punish impaired driving, open container laws can serve as an important tool in the fight against impaired driving. Penalties for Test Refusal Greater than Test Failure: Statutes that provide for increased penalties for refusing to take a breath test, more strict than those penalties for an individual who takes and fails a breath test. Preliminary Breath Tester: Portable breath testing device used to determine BAC of suspected DUI/DWI offenders.
Repeat Offender Law that is TEA-21 Compliant: Repeat offenders are those offenders who have two or more drunk driving offenses. In order to comply with TEA-21, the statute must include the following four penalties: 1. A minimum one-year hard license suspension 2. Impoundment, immobilization or the installation of an ignition interlock device on all vehicles owned by the offender. 3. All offenders must undergo an assessment of their degree of alcohol abuse and the law must authorize the imposition of treatment as appropriate. 4. There must be a mandatory minimum sentence.
Selling Alcohol to Youth: Usually enforced by the state’s alcohol beverage commission (ABC), these laws empower the ABC to rescind the license of any business that knowingly sells alcohol to an underage individual. Sobriety Checkpoints: An enforcement program that allows officers to stop all or predetermined vehicles to check for sobriety of the drivers. Social Host: Social host liability: statute or case law that imposes potential liability on social hosts as a result of their serving alcohol to obviously intoxicated persons or minors who subsequently are involved in crashes causing death or injury to third-parties.
Vehicle Confiscation: Seizure of the vehicle operated by an offender at the time the alcohol-related offense was committed. Youth Attempt at Purchase: A statute which makes it illegal for a person age 21 years or younger to attempt to purchase alcohol. Youth Consumption of Alcohol: A law making it an offense for individuals under 21 to consume alcohol or to have any amount of alcohol in their bodies. Youth Purchase: Laws that make it an offense for an individual 21 years or younger to purchase alcohol and provide for significant penalties including driver’s license suspension.
Zero Tolerance: Law that makes it illegal for drivers under the age of 21 to operate a motor vehicle with a blood alcohol level of . 02 or more (MADD[b], 2004). In conclusion, teenage alcoholism is a social problem that is more widespread than ever. If our society cannot recognize and treat this problem, then it will continue to spread. Awareness is the first step, and we need to be aware of our issue. This alcoholism is mainly spreading because of the lack of punishment for alcohol consumption among minors.
Our nation needs to enforce the drinking laws that were created to prevent alcoholism and destructive decisions more strictly or else it cannot be an apparent solution to this social problem. Also, we have many groups out there to help you if you have the problem of alcoholism. If you are suffering, you can’t hide your problem. Many people want to help, and if you can’t face your problem then it will continue to plague you. Teenage alcoholism is a spreading social problem that needs to be confronted and treated.