Illegal drinking among teens is not a new phenomena but patterns of teen drinking behavior have taken a turn and the risk has risen. The dangers are not limited by income or location, teens across the spectrum have shown increased impact from alcoholic consumption.
What was once a practice of beer with the buddies on Friday nights has become more likely to be binge drinking of hard liquor. Times have changed with the introduction of the alcohol-caffeine drinks. The internet availability of recipes for potent concoctions and peer communications has taken the risk of alcohol consumption to new levels.
The craze for combining caffeine energy drinks with alcohol, blocks the part of alcohol that causes you to become sleepy and increases the time available for additional consumption. This has made blood alcohol levels more common at the .3 and .4 levels among teens. These are levels so high that 50% of the people at those levels die.
The most recent survey of Coventry teens concerning alcohol consumption available is ten years old. The results then were eye opening, with 69% of 9th and 10th graders reporting some history of alcohol use. Over half of our students reported using alcohol before they turned 14. Why does this happen at such a young age?
Reports say a youth’s attitudes, beliefs and perceptions about the use of alcohol are of primary importance and their cultural environment is an influence. The more favorable the attitude of parents and peers increases the acceptance and use of alcohol by teens. Parental and community acceptance can be reflected in the fact that forty-four percent of Coventry teens believed there is little or no harm associated with occasional alcohol use.
The youth of today is the generation of leadership for tomorrow; it is also the next generation to require social services and intervention for alcohol and drug abuse. Providing education, guidance and direction on the subject with an understanding of responsibility for behavior and consequences is vital and belongs in our schools as part of a meaningful curriculum.
The world our graduates face today is not the same as it was even 10 or 15 years ago. College binge drinking and the consequences are far more dangerous today than ever before. After a party too many bright promising scholars are taking a trip not back to their dorm but instead to the morgue.
Good people can make bad decisions, it happens, we can’t prevent that but we can try and do all we can, to stop it. The time for action is now before we lose one of our native sons or daughters and say, “I wish there was something I could do” as we console a grieving parent.
It has been ten years since our Board of Education has taken an in-depth look at alcohol and drug use among our students. Times have changed, the risks are greater and it is time to once again look at the issue. We need to consider our curriculum and approach to alcohol education. Today we should be looking at both drugs and alcohol use and abuse. We can instill responsibility now or pay the higher price as a society in the future the choice is ours.