Tips for Teens: The Truth About Alcohol
Slang--Booze, Sauce, Brews, Brewskis, Hooch, Hard
Alcohol affects your brain. Drinking alcohol leads to a loss of
coordination, poor judgment, slowed reflexes, distorted vision, memory
lapses, and even blackouts.
Alcohol affects your body. Alcohol can damage every organ in your
body. It is absorbed directly into your bloodstream and can increase your
risk for a variety of life-threatening diseases, including cancer.
Alcohol affects your self-control. Alcohol depresses your central
nervous system, lowers your inhibitions, and impairs your judgment. Drinking
can lead to risky behaviors, including having unprotected sex. This may
expose you to HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted diseases or cause
Alcohol can kill you. Drinking large amounts of alcohol can lead
to coma or even death. Also, in 1998, 35.8 percent of traffic deaths of 15-
to 20-year-olds were alcohol-related.
Alcohol can hurt you--even if you're not the one drinking. If
you're around people who are drinking, you have an increased risk of being
seriously injured, involved in car crashes, or affected by violence. At the
very least, you may have to deal with people who are sick, out of control,
or unable to take care of themselves.
Know the law. It is illegal to buy or possess alcohol if you are
Get the facts. One drink can make you fail a breath test. In some
states, people under the age of 21 who are found to have any amount of
alcohol in their systems can lose their driver's license, be subject to a
heavy fine, or have their car permanently taken away.
Stay informed. "Binge" drinking means having five or more drinks
on one occasion. About 15 percent of teens are binge drinkers in any given
Know the risks. Mixing alcohol with medications or illicit drugs
is extremely dangerous and can lead to accidental death. For example,
alcohol-medication interactions may be a factor in at least 25 percent of
emergency room admissions.
Keep your edge. Alcohol can make you gain weight and give you bad
Look around you. Most teens aren't drinking alcohol. Research
shows that 70 percent of people 12-20 haven't had a drink in the past month.
How can you tell if a friend has a drinking problem? Sometimes
it's tough to tell. But there are signs you can look for. If your friend has
one or more of the following warning signs, he or she may have a problem
- Getting drunk on a regular basis
- Lying about how much alcohol he or she is using
- Believing that alcohol is necessary to have fun
- Having frequent hangovers
- Feeling run-down, depressed, or even suicidal
- Having "blackouts"--forgetting what he or she did while drinking
- Having problems at school or getting in trouble with the law
What can you do to help someone who has a drinking problem? Be a real
friend. You might even save a life. Encourage your friend to stop or seek
professional help. For information and referrals, call the National
Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information at 800-729-6686.
Q. Aren't beer and wine "safer" than liquor?
A. No. One 12-ounce beer has about as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce
shot of liquor, a 5-ounce glass of wine, or a wine cooler.
Q. Why can't teens drink if their parents can?
A. Teens' bodies are still developing and alcohol has a greater
impact on their physical and mental well-being. For example, people who
begin drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to develop
alcoholism than those who begin at age 21.
Q. How can I say no to alcohol? I'm afraid I won't fit in.
A. Remember, you're in good company. The majority of teens don't
drink alcohol. Also, it's not as hard to refuse as you might think. Try: "No
thanks," "I don't drink," or "I'm not interested."
To learn more about alcohol or obtain referrals to programs in your
SAMHSA's National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information
linea gratis en español 877-767-8432
Web site: ncadi.samhsa.gov
Curious about the TV ads of the National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign?
Check out the Web site at
http://www.freevibe.com or visit the Office of National Drug Control
Policy Web site at
The bottom line: If you know someone who has a problem with alcohol, urge
him or her to stop or get help. If you drink--stop! The longer you ignore
the real facts, the more chances you take with your life.
It's never too late. Talk to your parents, a doctor, a counselor, a
teacher, or another adult you trust.
Do it today!
1. Fatality Analysis Reporting System. National Highway
Traffic Safety Administration, 1998.
2. 1998 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Substance Abuse and Mental
Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), 1998.
3. Holder, H.D. Effects of Alcohol, Alone and in Combination with
Medications. Walnut Creek, CA: Prevention Research Center, 1992.
4. 1998 National Household Survey. (SAMHSA), 1998.
5. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism press release. January