Alcohol use among American teenagers is a problem of epidemic proportions. Alcohol is a drug -- the drug of choice of adolescents and adults. Abuse of this drug Is responsible for death and injury in automobile accidents, physical and emotional disability, loss of productivity amounting to millions of dollars annually, deterioration of academic performance, aggressive and disruptive behavior causing problems with family and friends, and individual financial ruin. It also is the primary cause of criminal behavior and a leading cause of broken homes.
Despite the problems caused to young and old by alcohol, society sends a mixed signal to its youth. The media presents beer drinking with peers as not only acceptable but almost mandatory in order to insure friendship and good times. Wine is presented as a sophisticated and romantic beverage, which is drunk in a setting of dim lights, soft music, and expensive decor. Hard liquor is portrayed as the perfect drink to top of the day and to be enjoyed with the glamorous company of the opposite sex. We joke and laugh about alcohol consumption, our own and others. Parents and teachers look forward to their “happy hour” at the end of the work day. We use euphemisms to avoid the reality of alcohol abuse. We rarely say we are going to get drunk; instead we talk about “partying.” We prefer to say that we, or someone else is bombed, smashed, or zonked rather than to call it what it is -- drunk.
Drinking alcohol is presented as routine behavior in many television programs and movies. “Can I fix you a drink?”, is a familiar opening line in television and movie dialogue. Occasionally, movies present a stark and realistic picture of alcohol abuse. But most of the messages we send to children are mixed and confused. In fact, many adults attitudes about alcohol are confused. And our schools reflect the confusions of the larger society in the message they send to their students about alcohol use. Our curriculum guides in health talk about the responsible use of alcohol. We don't consider teaching the responsible use of marijuana, cocaine, or heroin. Society is not confused about what it wants its schools to teach its youth about these drugs. But alcohol is viewed differently. No other drug presents this problem to our schools and society.
Alcohol drinking has become the norm in America and abstinence the exception. Yet ...
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...ek help (A Message to Teens).
One solution that many colleges are now trying is having open bars on campus. These bars are open to all students who are of legal drinking age. Some people argue that open bars on campus are sending the wrong message to students. The school officials however beg to differ. They claim that all drinking on campus is monitored closely. It is almost impossible to ban all alcohol from colleges, but this way bartenders have control of the amount of alcohol consumed by students (Purdy 73).
Despite all efforts to end binge drinking, many teens continue to do so (Purdy 72). It is believed that mortality rates would be lower if teens were educated more, not just about the effects of binge drinking, but about what to do in any given situation (Wechaler 2). If members of the Fiji house had been educated on what to do when someone has alcohol poisoning, then it is possible that Scott Crougar would still be alive today. It is likely that most of the Fiji house members did not know that Scott would choke on his own vomit and die. Medical records show that if Scott had been treated for alcohol poisoning just hours earlier, he would have survived (Walters).
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