Alcohol

Overview

  • Alcohol is created when grains, fruits, or vegetables are fermented.
  • Alcohol is absorbed into the bloodstream.
  • It is considered a central nervous system depressant.
  • It has a detrimental effect on the teen brain.
  • It can be mixed with other drugs to intensify the results.
  • It is a major contributor to motor vehicle accidents.
  • It can affect the body of a minor differently than an adult.

According to Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD):

  • Almost 80 percent of high school students try alcohol.
  • Alcohol-related car crashes are the number one cause of death for young people ages 16 to 24.
  • Alcohol is a factor in approximately 30 percent of all suicides.
  • It’s involved in approximately 40 percent of all crimes.
  • It can affect almost every organ in the body.

Effects on Youth

  • Chronic diseases, such as liver cirrhosis (damage to liver cells); pancreatitis (inflammation of the pancreas); various cancers of the liver, mouth, and throat; and high blood pressure
  • Rapid absorption from the stomach and small intestines into the bloodstream
  • Unintentional injuries, such as motor vehicle accidents, drowning, and falls
  • Alcohol abuse or dependence
  • Violence, such as homicides and suicides
  • Brain impairment, such as blackouts, memory lapses, poor judgment, loss of coordination, slow reflexes
  • Increased risk for underage sexual activity

Drinking Statistics

Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) is a national organization committed to stopping drunk driving, supporting the victims of this violent crime, and preventing underage drinking. According to MADD:

  • The average age of first alcohol use has generally decreased since 1965.
  • In 2008, 64.1 percent of eighth graders reported that alcohol is "very easy" or "fairly easy" to get. Eighty-one percent of tenth graders reported alcohol is "very easy" or "fairly easy" to get. Ninety-two percent of twelfth graders reported that alcohol is "very easy" or "fairly easy" to get.
  • On average, someone is killed by a drunk driver every 45 minutes.
  • Fifty to 75 percent of drunk drivers whose licenses are suspended continue to drive.
  • A first-time drunk driving offender has driven drunk an average of 87 times prior to being arrested.

Warning Signs

  • Lack of concentration
  • Changes in weight
  • Slurred speech
  • Bloodshot eyes
  • Increased sleep and/or sleep problems
  • Mood swings, withdrawal, or depression
  • Problems at school

Prevention

  • Spend quality time with your child, and talk directly about the dangers of alcohol and other drugs.
  • Set rules, and maintain realistic expectations and consequences.
  • Monitor your child’s behavior while providing structure and guidance.
  • Try not to lecture. Listen to what your child says.
  • Teach your child how to say no. Be a role model by demonstrating moderation.
  • Recognize the fact that parents have the power to keep their child substance-free.

Do You Know Where Teens Drink?

An article titled "Do You Know Where Your Teen Drinks?" by Dodie Huff-Fletcher, Ph.D., Seven Counties Services, Inc., sheds some revealing light on this question.

  • One out of ten teens has consumed alcohol in a motor vehicle.
  • Eight out of ten teens who drink have consumed alcohol in a home environment.
  • More than 60 percent of 16- and 17-year-olds have used alcohol in someone else’s home.
  • Thirty-six percent of 13- and 14-year-olds have consumed alcohol in their own homes.
  • Ten percent of 13-year-old drinkers have consumed alcohol in public places.
  • Remain diligent in making sure that your teen is safe in your home or car. Knowing where your teen is most likely to drink can help you devise a prevention plan.
  • Be aware that your home and your neighbors’ homes are not as safe for your teens as you may have thought.
  • Don’t be fooled. Drinking at home is not a safe option. The adolescent brain does not stop developing until the age of 25.

Know the Guidelines for Hosting Parties

  • Get to know your child’s friends and their parents.
  • Discuss your no-alcohol rule with other parents, and enlist their support.
  • Ensure that your child and his or her friends have planned activities with appropriate supervision.
  • Set times for your child’s arrival and departure at any given party.
  • Share any pertinent emergency phone numbers with other adults.

More Information for Parents

  • The single most predictive risk for underage drinking is if your child’s peers drink.
  • Encourage your child to choose friends who support your family values and no-alcohol rules.
  • Students with high-refusal assertiveness skills are less likely to drink underage.
  • Decide good ways to say no. Role-play those situations.
  • Be a good role model.

For Additional Reading

Resources

What can you do if you suspect that your child is abusing alcohol?

  • Local information and resources are available by calling the Seven Counties Services, Inc., Regional Prevention Center at (502) 589-8600 or by visiting http://www.sevencounties.org and clicking on Prevention Programs and Services under the "Our Services" tab.
  • If you suspect or know that your teen is using alcohol or other drugs, contact the Early Intervention Program (EIP), an assessment and educational program for youth, at Seven Counties Services, Inc., at (502) 439-9699.
  • Parents can call their child’s school counselor. Check the JCPS website for the direct phone number.
  • Parents also can call the JCPS Student Due Process Office at (502) 485-3260. Ask for the Assessment Center.

Where can you go for more information and help?