I recently heard two sad stories about teens and alcohol. Both stories are true – only the names have been changed.

Peter, 17, will live for the rest of his life with the tragic memory of what happened to 18-year-old Sharon. Peter had gone to a party where everyone was drinking booze. Sharon had gone to a party where everyone was drinking soda pop.

Sharon left her party a few minutes before Peter left his. Peter’s friends warned him not to drive home, but he was determined to show he could “handle his booze.”

As Sharon drove toward the top of a hill less than a mile from her home, Peter drove up the other side. He crossed the yellow centerline as he crested the hill and hit Sharon head-on She died instantly, every major organ in her body ruptured. Peter had only a few scrapes and bumps. Tragic! Yes, what a waste!

In another case, a high school senior girl went to a party at a university to visit a girlfriend. The high school girl wanted to be just like everybody else, so she walked around at the party with a drink in her hand. Unfortunately, as many new drinkers do, she drank a bit too much too quickly and passed out.

Some young men at the party decided to take advantage of her condition. They removed her clothing and about 12 detestable young men gang-raped this 17-yearold student.

Frightening memories

Several hours later when she woke up, she was haunted by faint, yet frightening memories of what had happened. What an ugly memory this young girl has to face. Why? Because she acted irresponsibly (Not to mention the totally immoral, carnal, unjustified act these young men committed!) She went along with the crowd and didn’t use her head. Again, a tragic waste!

It’s a sad commentary, but drinking permeates our society in a negative way.

Even though we try not to be affected by the bad in this world, society’s pressures strongly influence all of us. We must seriously look at the problem of teenage alcoholism – a problem that can powerfully affect you and those you love.

Can you guess what the No.1 cause of teenage deaths is? Drinking and driving – thousands of teens die every year in alcohol related automobile accidents in the United States alone!

On the average, teens begin to drink between the ages of 13 and 14. Of those 13 and younger, 24 percent drink frequently enough and in large enough quantities to be called moderate drinkers.

Shockingly, one out of four students 13 to 18 can be defined as problem drinkers.

Where do teens drink? Fifty-three percent do their drinking while driving or while sitting in a parked car (having yet to get home safely).

The next obvious question is, why do teens drink? Three reasons stand out in research: parental example, escapism and seeking acceptance.

An adult behavior?

Most teens get their first drink at home. The parents should be setting the right temperate example. However, many teens see their parents ‘or others’ wrong drinking habits as adult behavior they want to copy. Parental example must not be underestimated.

Escapism, the second reason, is defined by one teen as “letting the world drift away.” Many teens drink because it temporarily relieves the frustrations and anxieties of growing up.

A typical story of an early drinker is that of a student who is tired, discouraged and feels inferior academically. A few drinks may make him or her feel bright and witty. On the other hand, an athletically inclined student may be frustrated because he or she isn’t strong enough or fast enough and a few drinks seem to give him or her more confidence and power.

The third most popular reason teens give for drinking is to be accepted – to blend in with the crowd. Some teens feel that their peers will like them more readily if they do the same things.

Actually, though, a teen may gain more respect from peers if he or she is different in a good way and stands up for his or her values.

Teenagers who find themselves drinking heavily are not free of problems and independent. They may have thought they were when they began to drink, but they soon find themselves dependent instead. Life can be much more exciting without a habit that costs money and involves lying to and possibly stealing from one’s parents, and that leads to unhappiness.

Life without such a habit can mean life without the guilt of knowing you’re doing something wrong – a life in which your senses are sharp and you are alert – a life in which you can have good, clean fun and not suffer a hangover!

A mocker

The Bible has a word or two to say about drinking. Proverbs 20: 1 says, “Wine is a mocker, intoxicating drink arouses brawling, and whoever is led astray by it is not wise.”

Isaiah 5:11, paraphrased, says, “Shame to you who get up early in the morning to go on long drinking bouts that last till late at night – shame to you drunken bums!”

Not only does the Bible speak directly about drinking and drunkenness, but it also gives general principles.

For example, God tells children to honor their fathers and mothers. Is getting drunk behind your parents’ back, lying to them about where you’ve been, coming in later than they asked, risking your life and others’ in a car driven by a drunk person – is all this honoring your parents?

The Bible also says to be moderate in all things. Getting drunk or drinking too often is not moderation, and God had that principle recorded in the Bible for our well-being.

Often, God lets us suffer the consequences of our actions. After all, the Bible says, “Whatever a man or woman sows, that he or she will also reap” (Galatians 6:7).

The habit of drinking in excess is one to avoid. It can lead to a life of guilt, as Peter had to lead. It can mean leaving your parents grief-stricken because you were killed in an alcohol-related automobile accident. If used as an escape from frustrations, such a habit can leave you with immature emotions and lacking the ability to solve your problems later in life.

Teenage alcoholism is a major problem today, but the fact that many teens are plagued with it doesn’t mean all have to be. After reading this article, you know the statistics – you know the dangerous and tragic situations that can occur because of improper alcohol use. Will you make the same mistake?

Dexter Faulkner ‘Youth’

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