Alcohol is the number one drug problem among America’s youth. More senior high school students use alcohol than any other psychoactive drug. Family doctors, pediatricians, schoolteachers, and parents know that alcohol is overwhelmingly the drug of choice among today’s youth, although trendier substances such as cocaine are often given more attention in the headlines (Carla Felsted, p. vii). Furthermore, it is widely acknowledged that drinking alcohol is a part of the youth culture in America; it may also be understood as a culturally conditioned and socially controlled behavior.
In my generation drinking among underage kids is blamed on peers, accessibility, and adulthood. “Research shows that about 10 million Americans between ages 12 to 20 years had at least one drink last month” (April is Alcohol Awareness Month). Like all addictions, alcohol must first be experimented with. When a kid tries alcohol for the first time s/he will either like it and do it again, or not like it and not try it for a long time. Today’s youth have far more confusing and complex issues to deal with than those youth of earlier generations. Maxwell states that as teenagers engage in the process of trying out new behaviors and values to see what feels right, they must make decisions regarding the use of alcohol and drugs-decisions that often bear serious consequences.
“The teenage years can be turbulent, but many of the problems teens face seem to go away as they grow older and enter the adult world. If an adolescent is drinking heavily, there’s a good chance that this behavior will continue beyond the teen years and into adulthood” (Roxanne Nelson). If a teen’s drinking problem goes unnoticed and is not dealt with, there is a chance the teen will be a heavy drinker as an adult, have psychological problems, and abuse other substances. Even small problems with alcohol in teens may cause more serious alcoholism in the future, or depression, and personality disorders as young adults.
In a study done by Paul Rhode, PhD, a scientist at the Oregon Research Institute in Eugene, he and his colleagues evaluated whether teenagers with serious alcohol problems were likely to continue their behavior into adulthood. Roxanne Nelson states that the researchers found that serious alcohol problems as a teenager did predict future substance abuse, alcoholism, depression, and symptoms of antisocial and borderline personality disorders by age 24. In addition, teenagers who were heavy drinkers but that hadn’t actually been diagnosed with a serious alcohol problem were also at some increased risk for these same problems.
Teenagers face many difficult decisions in their lives and have many people in their lives that influence them. One of the major groups that influence teens is their peer group. “Since teenagers are not yet comfortable with themselves, they have a strong need to be accepted by their peers. And to be accepted, they feel they have to be just...