Teen Drinking

By: Ashley Davidson
By: Ashley Davidson

"Wild things that I wouldn't do if I wasn't drunk."

This young woman, who wishes to remain anonymous, says when she was under the influence of alcohol it made her act differently and got rid of her inhibitions.

"I'd go driving around with friends while we were drinking. Just doing stupid stuff. Just, I don't know, kissing guys I didn't even like or hanging all over guys I didn't know or like. Just a lot of things."

The age teenagers try their first drink of alcohol is younger than you may think. This young woman had her first drink when she was 13.

"With my friends. Just going to parties with my friends. Basically just social drinking."

She says it's not hard for teenagers to get alcohol either.

"Older people we know. Out of high school or whatever. We just went and asked them to go buy us beer. We’d just stop at the liquor store and ask somebody to go buy some beer for us."

Drinking alcohol can affect judgment and be a coping mechanism for other problems.

"It's just a mood-altering substance. It's just like any other thing. It made you feel more outgoing. Like you didn't have to be yourself. You can just be wild and outgoing and then the next morning you don't have to remember anything you did."

Wanting to cover the pain of problems she had with her family, she began to look for other ways to forget things.

"Well, it kind of escalated into more serious drugs."

She says she tried marijuana a couple of times, but her friends urged her to try cocaine and meth to get high instead.

"I started doing those things and once I got on the meth I liked the speed and stuff. I liked the way it made me feel and so I kept on doing that. Until one day it just got out of control. I couldn't handle how much I did. But I wanted it all the time."

The effect of alcohol and drugs took a toll on her grades and performance at school as well.

"My grades started to fail because I wouldn't go to school. I didn't want to go to school. I even thought about dropping out. Because I was so into drugs I didn't want to go to school anymore. But I was a really good student before I started doing them."

The alcohol and drug addiction drove a deeper wedge into her already-troubled family life.

"My family, me and my family we didn't talk anymore. I didn't go to see them. I didn't care about them. All I cared about were my friends. Just wanted to get high."

After being high on meth for several days she became so emotionally upset she tried to commit suicide.

"I was so depressed. And I didn't have anybody. I didn't have my family left. So I was just like, I don't want to live anymore."

She was sent to a crisis center after her suicide attempt and from there she went into rehab.

"After I got out of rehab and I went back to school, it's been great. I've met new people, made new friends. I've started to hang out with people who didn't do drugs. And I found as long as I hang out with positive people, I'll be more positive myself."

She now has a strong will to stay sober.

"I say no. I try to avoid those places now that I've been through it. I don't want to go back. I try to avoid everybody who does it and going to those places. I just hang out and do what regular people do instead of put myself in that position."

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Teen Alcohol Abuse

  • 10 million Americans between ages 12-20 had at least one drink in the last month.

  • Of the 10 million, five million were binge drinkers (having five or more drinks in a row), 2.3 million were heavy drinkers (consuming five or more drinks in a row on a single occasion).

  • Eighty percent of high school seniors have used alcohol; in comparison, 65 percent have smoked cigarettes; 50 percent have used marijuana; and 10 percent have used cocaine.

  • Approximately two-thirds of teenagers who drink report that they can buy their own alcoholic beverages.

  • Use of alcohol and other drugs is associated with the leading causes of death and injury (e.g., motor-vehicle crashes, homicides, and suicides) among teenagers and young adults.

  • The total cost of alcohol use by youth--including traffic crashes, violent crime, burns, drowning, suicide attempts, fetal alcohol syndrome, alcohol poisonings and treatment--is more than $58 billion per year.

  • First use of alcohol typically begins around the age 13.

  • Among teenagers who binge drink, 39 percent say they drink alone; 58 percent drink when they are upset; 30 percent drink when they are bored; and 37 percent drink to feel high.

  • Eighty percent of teenagers don't know that a 12 oz. can of beer has the same amount of alcohol as a shot of whiskey; similarly, 55 percent don't know that a 5 oz. glass of wine and a 12 oz. can of beer have the same amount of alcohol.

  • Teenagers whose parents talk to them regularly about the dangers of drugs are 42 percent less likely to use drugs than those whose parents don't, yet only 1 in 4 teens reports having these conversations.

Source: National Council on Alcoholism contributed to this report

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