Essay by PaperNerd ContributorCollege, Undergraduate October 2001

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Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is a chronic disease, which teenagers are faced with difficult decisions ever day in life. Normally kids are able to use their brain and not to get involved in something that could become a problem later in life. However, in today's age kids, especially teens, are faced with a serious problem "whether or not to drink alcohol." Everyone knows that teens have been experimenting with alcohol since it was discovered but teens today are using it more often and with totally different purposes. In the last decade in America there has been a consistent rise of teenagers who are going into the causes of alcoholism and this is a scary statistic, when these kids are the future of America.

After hearing this you may now be wondering what could drive teenagers to abuse alcohol when they have their whole life ahead of them. The first and main reason's that teenagers begin to drink is if alcohol abuse runs in their family.

If a child's parents consume large amounts of alcohol then the child himself has much more of a risk in of using alcohol at a young age. The drinking behavior of family, friends, religious or ethnic groups, and the availability and price of alcohol can affect individual drinking patterns as well as local rates of alcoholism and alcohol abuse. (Mark 2)Another reason that teenagers begin to drink and drink heavily is if their parents allow them to drink. Most teenagers will first experiment behind their parent's backs but when they are caught if the parents don't punish them it gives them the impression that they don't care. Generally kid's parents don't approve of them drinking but sometimes they believe that there is nothing they can do and often the parents let the kids drink if they stay home where they won't be out driving. If a parent does this I can see both the positive and negative aspects of it. First it is good that the parent is not letting their child out to run around while under the influence but on the other hand if a parent is allowing his child to drink then it is only promoting this activity. These reason show why parenting is such a tough job because, of having to decide on what is right and when they need to let go of their children.

The second main reason that drives teenagers to use alcohol is their peers. This is not a main factor that brings kids to drinking but everyone knows that a person's peers have a tremendous affect on them. If a person's friends are doing something then that person is more likely to try it themselves. Once a teenager begins to drink it is not the drinking that does damage to the person so much but the way the person drinks. A lot of teenagers today drink in way that is called binge drinking. Binge drinking is defined as having four or more drinks in an hour. As you can see binge drinking is done for only one purpose and that is to get drunk fast. Studies show that more than 40 percent of University students binge drink, according to a Penn State Pulse survey, and students younger than 21 are drinking an average of 4.4 drinks per occasion (Harris 1). One main concern of teenage kids drinking is that when they do drink they often get behind the wheel of a vehicle. In 1994, almost 7,800 people ages 16 through 20 were drivers in fatal motor vehicle crashes (NHTSA 2). Every year, alcohol is implicated in over 25,000 fatal automobile accidents and 12,000 murders in the United States (Hockenbury pp. 167). This is why cities and states are trying to make stiffer penalties for people who drive while under the influence of alcohol. Even with this the number of deaths related to alcohol keeps raising every year and this is why MADD has come up with some new solutions and penalties for people who violate these laws (MADD Online).

There are several reasons which leads teenagers to drinking however, these ones I have mentioned are the more often reason's found. The last reason that often causes teenagers to start drinking is how easy the drug is to get. Anyone at any age can get alcohol in some way or the other, whether it is by using a fake id, knowing someone at the convenient store, or just having someone walking down the road buy it. There were an estimated 28.6 million children of alcoholics in the U.S. in 1991, nearly 11 million of them under age 18. Of the under-18 group, almost 3 million will develop alcoholism, other drug problems, and/or other serious coping problems (NCADI 2). I figure this is why they call alcohol the social drug because it is so easy to get and hardly anyone thinks of it as a bad drug. After one begins to drink on a regular basis for along while their body can start to become physically dependent on the alcohol. When this happens a disease called alcoholism is inherited. It is hard to become dependent on alcohol but once one does it is very hard to stop drinking. Often times the word alcoholic is used on people when they are know where near being dependent on the drug. There are all kinds of signs to look for to tell if a person has a problem with drinking but these signs are not always correct. However, if a person's life revolves around alcohol and they put getting alcohol ahead of buying food for their family then this person may have a problem with drinking.

Alcoholism is a serious disease marked by extreme or compulsive use of alcohol. This horrifying disease strikes million of Americans teenagers; this means that there is a very good chance that many of your children, friends, and family members are effected by alcoholism. I hope that you realize that alcohol is not a harmless drug and it does kill people every day in one way or the other.