Alcoholism

Teenage years are filled with uncertainty. Intense pressure to perform and succeed is felt by many teenagers. This perceived failure at home and/or school can lead to the need for escape. Teenagers often see their parents react to stress by drinking, thus providing a bad example for them. They also see their favorite actors or actresses getting drunk in movies and on TV so they think that it's OK for them to do it, too. But what they don't know is that it really hurts them in the long run. The desire to be accepted and popular among their friends encourages many to begin drinking. The ability to consume a lot of alcohol is associated with being a “real” man or woman. When teens see adults drink heavily and movie stars on screen getting drunk, the message that gets through is that it's cool to drink -- which is the wrong one to be sending.


What is Alcohol?

The critical ingredient common to all alcoholic beverages is ethyl alcohol or ethanol. It is a clear, tasteless liquid formed through the fermentation of sugars by yeast spores. The amount of alcohol produced depends on the type and amount of sugar in the original mixture, the type of yeast used, and the temperature maintained during the fermentation process.


What is Alcoholism?

Alcoholism is an illness. It is a condition that people develop when they have lost control over their drinking and are unable to stop themselves. Alcoholism is not contagious. You cannot "catch" it. This condition is developed over a long period of time, but everyone is susceptible to it. Is there a cure? Sadly, there is no cure for alcoholism. The only solution we have come up with is prevention. Teenagers today have no idea what alcoholism really is. They think that they can never become alcoholics. They think it could never happen to them, but they are wrong. Stress, family problems and the desire to be popular are often the cause of teenage alcoholism.


Signs

Signs that you are becoming an alcoholic include:

Physical fatigue

Repeated health complaints

Red and glazed eyes

Lasting cough

Emotional/Personality change

Sudden mood changes

Irritability, irresponsible behavior

Low self-esteem

Poor judgment

Depression and a general lack of interest that leads to starting arguments, breaking rules and withdrawing from the family

Decreased interest in school, negative attitude, drop in grades, many absences, truancy, and discipline problems. This leads to new friends who are less interested in standard home and school activities

Problems with the law

Changes to less conventional styles in dress and music


Alcohol and Crime in America

Crime is inextricably related to alcohol and other drugs. More than 1.1 million annual arrests for illicit drug violations; almost 1.4 million arrests for driving while intoxicated; 480,000 arrests for liquor law violations; and 704,000 arrests for drunkenness come to a total of 4.3 million arrests for alcohol and other drug statutory crimes. That total accounts for over one-third of all arrests in this country. The impaired judgment and violence induced by alcohol contribute to alcohol-related crime. Rapes, fights, and assaults leading to injury, manslaughter, and homicide often are linked with alcohol because the perpetrator, the victim, or both were drinking. The economic cost of AOD-related crime is $61.8 billion annually. Many perpetrators of violent crime were also using illicit drugs. Some of these drugs, such as PCP and steroids, may induce violence. These drugs can also be a catalyst for aggressive-prone individuals who exhibit violent behavior as a result of taking them. The need for preventing alcohol and other drug problems is clear when the following statistics are examined:

Australian Statistics: Alcohol-related motor vehicle accidents tend to be highest for drivers in the 21-29 age group, but is also high for the 17-39 age group.

American Statistics: Alcohol is a key factor in up to 68 percent of manslaughters, 62 percent of assaults, 54 percent of murders/attempted murders, 48 percent of robberies, and 44 percent of burglaries.

Among jail inmates, 42.2 percent of those convicted of rape reported being under the influence of alcohol or alcohol and other drugs at the time of the offence.

Over 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women arrested for property crimes (burglary, larceny, and robbery) in 1990, who were voluntarily tested, tested positive for illicit drug use.

When students want to talk to or with someone about their problem, 50.4 percent report that they would choose a peer, 62.1 percent a parent, 39.1 percent an adult friend, and 30.4 percent a relative other that a parent.


Alcoholics Anonymous

Alcoholics Anonymous does not engage in the fields of alcoholism research, medical or psychiatric treatment, education, or advocacy in any form, although members may participate in such activities as individuals. Traditionally, Alcoholics Anonymous does not accept or seek financial support from outside sources, and members preserve personal anonymity in print and broadcast media and otherwise at the public level. The Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) experience has always been made available freely to all who have sought it - business people, spiritual leaders, civic groups, law enforcement officers, health and welfare personnel, educators, representatives of military establishments, institutional authorities, representatives of organized labor, and many others. But AA never endorses, supports, becomes affiliated with, or expresses an opinion on the programs of others in the field of alcoholism, since such actions would be beyond the scope of the fellowship's primary purpose.


Contributing Factors

The fact is that alcohol affects all drivers because it is a depressant and slows brain function. This reduces the ability to respond to situations, affecting judgment of speed and distance. People can't tell accurately how fast they are going or how far away from others they are. Alcohol also gives a false sense of confidence -- people take risks they wouldn't normally take. According to the Roads and Traffic Authority, half of the accidents occurring on Friday, Saturday or Sundays nights are due to drunk driving. Drivers aged between 21 and 29 are the highest risk factors contributing to this, although drivers ages 17 to 39 are also very high. Statistics show that drunk drivers are mostly male (over 85% of all charges). There has been a change in community attitudes towards drunk driving, with more and more people opting not to drink and drive.