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- Catherine Rampell, student @ University of Washington
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WHAT WERE YOU THINKING?
What could alcohol do to me? What is the big deal with drinking and driving? What could possibly go
wrong? These are many of the questions teenagers in America ask today. One reason alcohol is such a
problem for teenagers is because of its acceptance in today's society. Because alcohol is so prominent,
drinking and driving is a major issue for teens to deal with. Many times the reason and effect of drinking
lead to many of the negative effects of teens and drunk driving.
There are many reasons why teenagers begin and continue to drink. One of the main reasons
teenagers drink is because "it is associated with good times, pleasure, and occupational and social success"
( James B. Jacobs, pg. 7). For example, drinking is a large part of many teenage parties. Many teenagers
believe that they will have more fun with everyone if they drink. One DMHS senior stated, " I drink at
parties to fit in with the people and to have fun." For many teens, the reason they drink is simply to fit in
with the others. Another reason many teenagers turn to alcohol is to reduce tension or stress. Many teens
are "turning to alcohol to cope with a hard day, family problems, or bad news" ( James B. Jacobs pg. 3).
Family patterns of alcohol abuse may also be a part of someone turning to alcohol. Whether it is to deal
with stress or to have fun, teens across America are turning more and more to alcohol.
Alcohol causes many different effects on everyone who drinks. It does not matter if it is a first
time drinker or a regular drinker, everyone suffers the effects. The effects range from the slightest
drowsiness, to unconsciousness, to death. Even though alcohol affects everyone , it affects everyone
differently. Some things that may make a difference are a persons weight, age, and sex. People who are
lighter and smaller, such as women and teens, tend to be affected by alcohol more rapidly. Also, according
to Judy Monroe, "Women are affected faster than men because they have more body fat" (Judy Monroe,
pg. 24). Also, many teens tend to feel the effects quicker than adults for two reasons. Underage drinkers
are usually smaller, and they are still developing.
Alcohol can have many effects on people. For example, "Just one drink can make for a fitful
night of sleep" (Judy Monroe, pg. 26). Drowsiness is an effect alcohol can have on many drinkers.
Alcohol not only affects a person physically, but also mentally. Many people will feel happier and free of
worry when they drink. On the other hand, alcohol can also cause people to become angry and very
aggressive. Therefore, everyone who drinks needs to be aware of the effects that are possible from
drinking any amount of alcohol.
Just as there are many reasons people drink, there are also many reasons people decide to drink
and drive. Even though a person who is intoxicated may see their reasons as rational, the reasons will most
likely sound very irrational to someone who is sober. For example, many teenagers are afraid to let their
parents know that they drink. So, instead of calling them when they or their friend cannot drive home, they
decide to get behind the wheel and drive anyways. Because this is such a problem among teens, many
areas have come up with a contract. This contract is called The Contract for Life, which teens and their
parents sign. In this contract, the teen agrees to call home if they need a ride. Likewise the parent agrees to
pick up their child no matter where or when, without asking any questions. (See contract on pg. 12 )
Another reason many teens drink and drive is that they are too drunk at the time to even think about not
driving. This is a much tougher problem !
to deal with. The reasons a person would drive drunk may sound crazy to a sober person, but they sound
completely reasonable to someone who is drunk.
Drinking can have many serious effects on drivers. Many of the times, the drunk driver not only
hurts themselves, but they also hurt many innocent people. Out of 50,000 fatal
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Alcohol abuse, Drinking culture, Alcoholism, Alcoholic beverage, Disease theory of alcoholism, Alcohol intoxication, Drunk driving in the United States, Epidemiology of binge drinking, Alcohol advertising
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