MESSAGE FOR YOUTH
We know that your life can be very difficult. You have tons of pressure! You constantly have schoolwork to do; meanwhile your parents have their expectations of what you should be doing. Along with that there are clubs and activities – all pulling you in different directions! You’d also love to have a job so you could buy your own car.
We also know that many teenagers respond to this pressure in unhealthy ways. Almost every teenager has been approached about using alcohol and/or drugs. Some cave in because they want to fit in; others think it will help them deal with all the pressure in their life. The sad truth is that drinking alcohol and using drugs only makes everything much worse.
You probably see and hear a lot about alcohol—from TV, movies, music, and your friends. But what are the real facts about underage alcohol use? Here are some from a 2012 national study conducted by the federal government (SAMHSA):
- MYTH: Alcohol isn’t as harmful as other drugs.
FACT: Alcohol increases your risk for many deadly diseases, such as cancer. Drinking too much alcohol too quickly can lead to alcohol poisoning, which can kill you.
- MYTH: Drinking is a good way to loosen up at parties.
FACT: Drinking is a dumb way to loosen up. It can make you act silly, say things you shouldn’t say, and do things you wouldn’t normally do (like get into fights).
- MYTH: Drinking alcohol will make me cool.
FACT: There’s nothing cool about stumbling around, passing out, or puking on yourself. Drinking alcohol also can cause bad breath and weight gain.
- MYTH: All of the other kids drink alcohol. I need to drink to fit in.
FACT: If you really want to fit in, stay sober. Most young people don’t drink alcohol. Research shows that almost 75 percent of 12- to 20-year-olds have not used any alcohol during the past month.
- MYTH: I can sober up quickly by taking a cold shower or drinking coffee.
FACT: On average, it takes 2 to 3 hours for a single drink to leave the body. Nothing can speed up the process, not even drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, or “walking it off.”
- MYTH: Adults drink, so kids should be able to drink, too.
FACT: A young person’s brain and body are still growing. Drinking alcohol can cause learning problems or lead to adult alcoholism. In 2012, adults who had taken their first drink before age 15 were seven times more likely to experience alcohol problems as those who had not started drinking before age 21.
- MYTH: Beer and wine are safer than liquor.
FACT: Alcohol is alcohol. It can cause you problems no matter how you consume it. One 12-ounce bottle of beer or a 5-ounce glass of wine (about a half cup) has as much alcohol as a 1.5-ounce shot of liquor. Alcopops—sweet drinks laced with malt liquor—often contain more alcohol than beer!
- MYTH: I can drink alcohol and not have any problems.
FACT: If you’re under 21, drinking alcohol is a big problem: It’s illegal. If caught, you may have to pay a fine, perform community service, or take alcohol awareness classes. Kids who drink also are more likely to get poor grades in school and are at higher risk for being a crime victim.
RESOURCES FOR YOUTH
Good for younger teenagers. Information on alcohol and resisting peer pressure.
Gives access to youth specific information.
Abstinence-based information to help youth stay drug free. Part of a media campaign, website created to increase youth awareness of the influences around and teaches strategies to help teens say no to drugs. Program of the Office of National Drug Control Policy.
Provides drug education and prevention information for teens. Sponsored by the DEA.
Call 1-800-999-9999 (TTY 1-800-999-9915) to talk with a counselor about problems relating to violence, abuse, running away, drugs & alcohol, suicide, etc. Help is available by phone or email from 2pm to 12pm, 7 days/week. Can also get help online through one of the Covenant House Nineline forums. Covenant House helps runaway and homeless kids.