Teen Alcoholism: Problems for Americas Youth
In 1991, a study by the United States Surgeon Generals office stated that 8 million out of the 20.7 million young people in grades 7 through 12 drank alcoholic beverages every week. It went on to say that 454,000 of those youngsters reported weekly binges (Claypool 21). In the United States and all over the world underage teens are drinking, and it may be because they just dont know about alcohol and its effects (Monroe 56). Underage or teen drinking is a major problem today that is increasing more and more, and something needs to be done to stop this increase and to control the number of underage drinkers.
There are many statistics that show just how big this problem is amongst our youth. One frightening statistic that shows how much this problem has been increasing is that between 1948 and 1988 the percent of teen drinkers increased by 57 percent (Nielsen 47). Many parents may think that their child may not drink until they are much older, but the average age that teenagers try alcohol is between the ages twelve and sixteen (9). Also, a 1995 study taken by the University of Michigan stated that 35 out of 100 high school seniors drank 5 or more drinks at one time at least once during their two week survey period (Claypool 10). A recent poll by the National Association of Student Councils found that alcohol was the leading school problem and 46 percent [of students] said it was the schools most serious problem (Monroe 53). This may be because alcohol is very dangerous because it is a poisonous drug that can be very addictive (Mitchell 6).
In order to help solve this problem of underage drinking we must first try to understand why teens drink alcohol. There are many reasons why a young teen may choose to drink alcohol. A national survey, taken in 1995, showed that 87 percent of parents thought that teens drank because of peer pressure, but 79 percent of teenagers said it was just because they liked the feeling they got when they drank (27). The main reason and the biggest reason why teens drink would probably have to be peer pressure, but there are many other reasons other than peer pressure why a teen might drink.
In addition to peer influences, some experts believe that media depiction of alcohol use in print advertising, television and radio commercials, and fictional television programs such as sitcoms and dramatic series glamorizes alcohol to young people and can influence their decision to drink (Mitchell 28). The media today is very influential, and by viewing alcohol being glamorized some teens think that it is acceptable to drink. Many teenagers are fascinated by some of the alcohol commercials on television such as the comedic Budweiser ads, and researchers believe that this fascination may lead them to try the product being advertised (30).
Peer pressure is a huge issue for a teenager these days and it affects many decisions a teen might make. Being a teen can be an awkward situation, and in order to fit in and feel less awkward teens might start to drink, but what they dont know is that it may not be so easy to stop (Landau 52). Some teens would do anything to be cool so if the cool teens told them drink, they might just be pressured into doing so as well (Nielsen 53).
Many times peer pressure and social situations seem to be similar in that they both can cause a teenager to do something they normally wouldnt do. The only difference is that with peer pressure he or she is forced to make a decision and with social situations, the teen makes the decision. A teens social environment can also lead him to start drinking. For example, a teen might try drinking in order to loosen up or to be less shy, and if he thinks that he did loosen up he might want to do it again (Mitchell 25). Many social situations such as a party or school function may present the opportunity to drink, and if teens see that everybody else is drinking they might do it