The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that more young people today are dying from alcohol-related accidents. Among 18 to 24 year olds, the number of deaths has risen by over 20 percent in the last ten years.
“I woke up in the driver’s side seat, blood all over me, glass everywhere. The doctors said my friend had 48 hours to live,” says ‘Nick,’ whose identity we’ve agreed to protect. This was the third time he wrecked a car while drunk.
His friend survived the accident.
The latest surveys report that 45 percent of kids report binge drinking and 29 percent admit to drinking and driving. The result? The number of 18 to 24 year olds dying from alcohol related accidents is on the rise.
And that’s not all says Jim Mosher, director of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation. “It’s the number one contributor to youth deaths, injuries, including violence, suicide, car crashes, and other forms of serious harm. In addition it undermines school work, it undermines family relationships. It is a main contributor to sexual assaults among young people, which is on the rise across the country.”
Like many kids, ‘Nick’ had his first drink from his parent’s liquor cabinet. He was 12. “I loved it, I was off to the races then. It made me feel ten feet tall and bulletproof,” he says.
“The parents aren’t aware that their kids are even interested in drinking,” says Ari Russell, executive director of GUIDE, a community based substance abuse prevention agency. “They just think that they are too young to start thinking about alcohol. And so they are not checking their supplies, they are not seeing is the whiskey going down in the bottle. Is there a beer missing from the refrigerator? Is there a wine cooler missing from the refrigerator? They are not even paying attention to it.”
Experts say parents need to insist that their kids don’t drink, even if that causes a big argument and makes you unpopular. “But isn’t that part of being a parent?” says Dr. Robert Margolis, an alcohol and drug counselor. “Aren’t there certain things worth fighting? Aren’t there certain lines worth drawing, where you say, ‘Okay. You know, I’m not going to worry so much about how long his hair is. I may not worry about the cd’s that he listens to. But when it comes to drinking, then I’m going to fight that battle.”
After one too many close calls, Nick is now sober. “It’s just a hundred times, a thousand times better.”
Tips for Parents
Research defines binge drinking as having five or more drinks in a row. Reasons adolescents give for binge drinking include: to get drunk, the status associated with drinking, the culture of drinking on campus, peer pressure and academic stress. Binge drinkers are 21 times more likely to: miss class, fall behind in schoolwork, damage property, injure themselves, engage in unplanned and/or unprotected sex, get in trouble with the police, and drink and drive.
Young people who binge drink could be risking serious damage to their brains now and increasing memory loss later in adulthood. Adolescents may be even more vulnerable to brain damage from excessive drinking than older drinkers. Consider the following:
The average girl takes her first sip of alcohol at age 13. The average boy takes his first sip of alcohol at age 11.
Underage drinking causes over $53 billion in criminal, social and health problems.
Seventy-seven percent of young drinkers get their liquor at home, with or without permission.
Students who are binge drinkers in high school are three times more likely to binge drink in college.
Nearly 25 percent of college students report frequent binge drinking, that is, they binged three or more times in a two-week period.
Autopsies show that patients with a history of chronic alcohol abuse have smaller, less massive and more shrunken brains.
Alcohol abstinence can lead to functional and structural recovery of alcohol-damaged brains.
Alcohol is America’s biggest drug problem. Make sure your child understands that alcohol is a drug and that it can kill him/her. Binge drinking is far more pervasive and dangerous than boutique pills and other illicit substances in the news. About 1,400 students will die of alcohol-related causes this year. An additional 500,000 will suffer injuries.
A study by the Harvard School of Public Health showed that 51 percent of male college students and 40 percent of female college students engaged in binge drinking in the previous two weeks. Half of these drinkers binged frequently (more than three times per week). College students who binge drink report:
Interruptions in sleep or study habits (71 percent).
Caring for an intoxicated student (57 percent).
Being insulted or humiliated (36 percent).
An unwanted sexual experience (23 percent).
A serious argument (23 percent).
Damaging property (16 percent).
Being pushed, hit or assaulted (11 percent).
Being the victim of a sexual advance assault or date rape (1 percent).
Students must arrive on college campuses with the ability to resist peer pressure and knowing how to say no to alcohol. For many youngsters away from home for the first time, it is difficult to find the courage to resist peer pressure and the strength to answer peer pressure with resounding no. Parents should foster such ability in their child’s early years and nurture it throughout adolescence. Today’s youth needs constant care from parents and community support to make the best decisions for their wellbeing.
source: My High Plains