Everyone knows, the pressures of adolescence, is a time that brings about changes physically, emotionally, and mentally. These changes can be overwhelming. This could lead to risky behavior like drinking and drug usage. Stress and peer pressure are major contributing factors. Teens today are under a lot of pressure to be socially accepted and be part of the “in crowd”. Sadly enough more often than not this means attending parties with friends 2where drugs and alcohol are present. It usually starts out with “just a few drinks” or a little marijuana. That stuff is harmless right? Wrong! Alcohol is the most widely available and deadly of all drugs. Yes, alcohol is a drug. It affects every part of the body, not just your liver and kidneys.
Alcohol affects the Central Nervous System (CNS) and you r brain as well. It is used to “relax” or “wind down”. It also lowers inhibitions which is especially disturbing for teenage girls who would not usually engage in promiscuous sex which leads to Sexually Transmitted Diseases (STD’s) and unwanted pregnancies. Survey of High School students found that 18% of females and 39% of males say it is acceptable to force sex on a girl if she is high or drunk. Not only is this shocking information, it is morally wrong and socially frowned upon but it is illegal. Does the term rape ring a bell? Strong language, huh? Most experts and media like to soften it by calling it “date rape” or even “drug facilitated sexual assault”. No matter how much one tries to sugar coat it – its rape, plain and simple.
This brings me to another point, which is, trouble with the law. Among the 6 million plus incarcerated in our country, nearly 40% were estimated to have been drinking at the time of the offense. Among violent offenders, 41% were under the influence of drugs and/or alcohol. These staggering statistics alone should be enough to keep our youth abstinent from drugs and alcohol, sadly enough, its not. But wait, the nightmare doesn’t end there.
Alcohol is deadly and the statistics prove it. Each year approximately 5,000 young people under the age of 21, die as a result of underage drinking. This includes 1,900 deaths as a result of drinking and driving, 1,600 from homicides, 300 suicides, and hundreds of others stemming from injuries such as falls, burns and drowning.
So ask yourself what can I do to prevent teen alcohol use and protect our children? Here are a few steps you can take as a responsible parent to, hopefully, prevent these tragedies:
1. Spend time with your kids regularly
2. Listen and talk with your children; try to understand the pressures placed on them by peers and society as a whole and make it safe for them to talk to you about what they are going through.
3. Keep track; know where your children are, what they are doing and who their friends are.
4. Get them involved in after school activities such as sports, volunteer work, etc….
5. Reward them for positive behaviors; positive reinforcement goes a long way with young people
6. Be a role model, don’t use drugs or alcohol to excess—they are your children and they look up to you!
7. Most importantly, be their friend. Let them know that they can talk to you and make sure they feel safe enough to do so when the time comes-and it will come. Be there and be ready for it.