Alcohol is different than the other categories of drugs talked about in these stories because it is not a drug and very legal. It has been woven into our cultural. Prime time TV advertises it, and stores sell it. For something so accepting in our society, under age drinking is still a major concern for a lot of people and can be seen in many high school settings. Although the age in which consuming alcohol has been heavily debated throughout the years and differs depending on the country you live in, the effects that it has on your body, beginning in adolescence, is one that is not argued over.
When discussing the effects alcohol can have on the human body it can be divided into short term and long term effects, not all of which are negative despite many misconceptions. In the short term (and in moderation), alcohol has a relaxing effect on the body. It reduces artery spasms and tension from stress.
To protect the privacy of certain individuals the names and identifying details have been changed.
Timber Creek junior, Allie, will have a drink once every few months if she is at a party and says it makes her more comfortable. “It makes me more outgoing, less afraid to dance and stuff.”
Short term doesn’t necessarily mean in small amounts though, and the quicker you drink alcohol, the more negative toll it will take on the body. Binge drinking, which is heavy consumption of alcohol in a short period of time, can cause vomiting and blackouts.
Recent high school graduate, Grace likes the good feelings associated with alcohol and the social aspects with friends and when it’s around the holidays, with her family. But she has recently stopped because of some intense negative experiences with binge drinking.
“It can be really positive. It can be a great social tool. I know personally, I was a really awkward kid and I had my first sip of alcohol at 16. I know when I did get drunk I was able to be more bubbly and friendly and happy and it was different” explains Grace. “But I went hard too quick and didn’t know my limits. The pros did not outweigh the cons. The fun time didn’t outweigh the forgetting and sickness in the morning. I almost died once. (My roommate and I) went to a party and I drank a lot of alcohol, a mix of alcohol, and ended up blacking out completely. I passed out on the concrete and a couple of co-workers who left the party earlier found me passed out. And no one was around and no one knew where I was.” she recalled. “I felt like death. I was embarrassed. It was just not worth it.”
In the long term, alcohol can be life threatening. This also includes drinking in heavy doses. A national survey found that more than half of teenagers between the ages of 12 and 20 have drank alcohol at least once. These actions, though seemingly harmless at the time, can lead to problems in adulthood. Disease such as Alcoholism can develop during teenage years. Teens are more vulnerable to addiction because the pleasure center of the brain matures faster than the part of the brain that involves self control and good decision making.
Rachel, a junior here at Timber Creek, explains how she has a parent who developed problems with drinking at an early age and how it has changed how she lives her life.
“They started doing it (drinking) in high school and they would party. And eventually it just became apart of their life. So when they got to be an adult and have a family it became a serious problem.” she explains. “And it has put my family through hell. And the problem is people just don’t get it. Alcoholism is a disease. People think you can just stop and that’s not how addiction works.” Rachel also says that she will never be able to drink nor does she want to because of the negative impact it has had on her loved ones.
Alcohol is not a drug but should be taken as seriously as one. More people are involved in alcohol related deaths a year than any recreational drug. Obviously being in high school and therefore under the legal drinking age, teenagers are told time and time again to not drink. But the reality is that they will still do it anyways. No amount of statistics or personal stories will convince them to not chug their fifth beer at that party. Saying not to drink is seemingly pointless in a society where partying and getting wasted is such a big part of some young adults life as seen by some of these students. Talking about those actions freely doesn’t mean they are condoned but they can’t be ignored either. Informing people, young and old, on the effects alcohol can have on your physical body as well as mental health will keep everyone smart the next time they make a possibly life changing decisions.