Editorial On Drinking

I walked into the house where the "party of the century" was going to be held. I was psyched to be going. At the time I was a little naive freshman invited to my first official high school party at a senior’s house. I was at the party no more than 30 minutes when this boy offered me a drink. Thinking nothing of it, I agreed. He brought back a half-filled cup. Before I took a sip, I recognized a familiar smell, one I really couldn’t my finger on. It wasn’t Pepsi and I knew it wasn’t Sprite. Then it hit me, I was being offered alcohol. I was only a freshman, and I was being offered a glass of alcohol. My first glass of alcohol. I could not believe it. Was this what growing up meant? Being able to drink and do exactly what my parents and teachers had been telling me not to do for as long as I could remember? I looked around the room, and saw other people drinking the same stuff, then I saw them stumbling around, and some were in the corner puking. This never happens to the people on the beer commercials on TV, why should it happen to these kids? As I saw these people, my peers, the truth finally hit me, alcohol isn’t for teenagers, no matter what the commercials say. Not only does alcohol make you look ridiculous, it’s illegal for people my age to be drinking. In a survey conducted by the Associated Press in 1998, almost half of the American teenagers were drinkers. This same substance I had been told to refuse my entire childhood was being consumed by nearly half of my peers. According to that same survey, nearly 9 out of 10 teenagers between the ages of 16 and 19 years of age had their first alcoholic beverage after their 11th birthday. At this point, was I suppose to become a statistic or be that one out of ten people who doesn’t use alcohol? In D.A.R.E., the drug education program children are taught up until they enter high school, they always tell you to “Just Say No”, but I bet they have no clue what goes through the mind of naive teenagers who see all of their peers having a “great time” while they try to be the good kid and refuse. It’s obvious why people should refuse. Alcohol impairs your judgement, distorts your vision, hearing, and coordination, and alters your perceptions and emotions. That’s not the hard part, seeing how alcohol can destroy you, the hard part is saying no when all your friends are saying yes. Helping teenagers say no against peer pressure, is actually an obvious solution. We should start from the very beginning. Eliminate the alcohol commercials that show children and young adults that drinking is glorious. I specifically remember seeing a commercial with two beautiful models on it. They were fighting over which beer to drink that would make them skinnier. This commercial was putting in consumer’s minds that drinking alcohol will make them become skinnier like these models. A KidCom marketing study found the Budweiser frogs, penguins, and lizards were American children’s favorite ads. No wonder it’s hard for a 15 year old to say no, when kids have been told indirectly through the media to say yes to beer from day one. I was fortunate to use good judgement. My parents taught me that drinking was wrong. My father quit drinking to set a good example for me. He knew the effects of it, and he knew the importance of being substance free. Because of this I refused the drink in my hand proudly at that party. I was able to rise above these kids, and show them I was strong. I was strong enough to “Just Say No”, but I still worry about some of my friends. They weren’t lucky enough to be educated about alcohol like I was. And I worry about my 13 year old sister and her friends who strive to be like the big kids they see on TV. The people I worry the most about our the elementary school students. They have no clue what they will experience with alcohol and