Alcohol Abuse

Alcohol abuse is a huge problem across the entire county. This document provides some facts and information to discourage underage and abusive alcohol consumption.

If you think it can't happen to you, look around. Check your school's yearbooks for the last ten years. How many were dedicated to a student who was killed in a drunk-driving crash?

Ask your friends how many people they know who have had bad things happen to them when they or someone else was drinking.

You don't even have to be the one drinking - most teenage passenger deaths are a result of crashes caused by alcohol-impaired teenage drivers. No matter the situation, drinking alcohol under the age of 21 is illegal.

Alcohol is the number one drug of choice for teenagers.

How Alcohol Affects You

  • You see double, slur your speech, and lose your sense of distance. 
  • Alcohol loosens your inhibitions; you make bad judgments that can result in car crashes, violence, unwanted pregnancy, sexual transmission of diseases, or rape. 
  • A significant portion of violent crimes and vandalism among and by youth involves the use of alcohol. 
  • Using alcohol can cost you your freedom. You can be grounded by your parents, lose your driver's license, or end up in jail. 
  • You can get sick or die from alcohol poisoning. 
  • Poor grades may be a result of alcohol use.

Be Smart About Advertising

Take a good look at how the alcohol industry tries to convince people to use its products:

  • Wine coolers are displayed in stores next to fruit drinks. Maybe they don't think you'll notice the difference between a regular fruit drink and one with alcohol. 
  • Different brands of beer and other alcoholic beverages are slipped into the movies you watch. They think if you see your favorite actor drinking it, you will too. 
  • The models on the beer commercials are always young, fit, and beautiful. But alcohol has plenty of calories and little nutritional value. Drinking it will not make you more fit or attractive. 
  • Advertisements feature celebrities and sports figures, but drinking will not make you famous or athletic. 
  • Alcohol advertisers are now reminding people not to drink and drive. But drunk driving is not the only way alcohol can mess up your life.
  • ​Advertisers hope you won't stop and think when you see their ads. Don't be conned. Use your own judgment and learn the facts.

Alcohol-related car crashes are the number one killer of teenagers in the United States.

More Facts About Alcohol

  • The earlier young people start drinking and using drugs, the more likely they are to become addicted. 
  • Drinking coffee, taking a cold shower, exercising, or breathing fresh air will not sober you up. The only thing that sobers you up is time - at least several hours. 
  • One beer, one shot of whiskey, and one glass of wine all have the same amount of alcohol. Don't fall for the myth that beer and wine are less intoxicating than hard liquor. 
  • Only 3 to 5 percent of alcoholics are what we think of as bums. Most alcoholics are just like people you know. Anyone can become an alcoholic - young, old, rich, poor, single, married, employed, or out -of-work. 
  • Drinking alcohol does not quench your thirst; it causes dehydration. 
  • Alcohol interferes with your central nervous system. You lose balance, coordination, and judgment. 
  • Alcohol ages and damages the brain. 
  • Alcoholism is hereditary. 
  • Eight young people die in alcohol-related crashes every day. 
  • Teens who drink alcohol are 7.5 times more likely to use any illicit drug, and 50 times more likely to use cocaine than young people who never drink alcohol.
  • You are breaking the law by buying or using alcohol before you are 21 years old. 

Alcohol is the number-one drug problem in America.

Take Action

  • Make a pledge with your friends that you will help each other avoid alcohol and other drugs. Leave parties where kids are drinking. 
  • If a friend or someone you know has passed out from drinking too much alcohol, turn the person on his or her side and call 911 or your local emergency number. Too much alcohol can cause the central nervous system, which controls breathing, to shut down. 
  • Death can result.
  • Don't ride with someone who has been drinking. Call a taxi, your parents, or another relative or friend for a ride. 
  • Encourage someone you think has a drinking problem to get help. Go with them to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings or to meet with a counselor. 
  • Suggest that members of any club or youth group you belong to organize an antidrinking project such as an alcohol-free post-prom, graduation, or New Year's Eve party. 
  • Ask for help if someone is pressuring you to try alcohol or other drugs. Talk to someone you trust.

Who Gets Hurt?

People like you . . .

  • Three out of five Americans will be involved in an alcohol-related car crash. 
  • Someone is injured in an alcohol-related crash every 32 seconds.

Who Gets Killed?

People like you . . .

  • In 1999 alone, 15,786 people were killed in alcohol-related car accidents. Of those, 2,238 were young people. That’s about 42 young people killed in drunk driving accidents every week. 
  • Almost 40 percent of all traffic fatalities are alcohol related.

Who Pays?

We all do . . .

  • The estimated yearly economic cost of alcohol related car accidents is $45 billion. 

Why Are Drinking and Driving a Lethal Combination?

  • Judgment is the first capacity affected by alcohol. People who’ve been drinking frequently believe that they’re less affected than they are.
  • Coordination, vision, and motor skills are drastically impaired by alcohol consumption. 
  • Being fatigued, stressed, under the weather, or using any medicine can dramatically increase alcohol’s effect, making—one harmless little drink—lethally intoxicating to someone behind the wheel. 

How Much Is Too Much?

The only completely safe alcohol consumption level before driving is ZERO.

  • If you or anyone else is concerned about your sobriety, don’t drive. Get a ride or stay where you are (spend the night if necessary) until you are sure you’re able to drive safely.
  • Plan ahead. Designate a driver who agrees to “down” only nonalcoholic drinks.

Watch Out for the Other Guy!

On an average weekend evening, approximately one out of every ten drivers is legally impaired or drunk. Any time of day or night, use seat belts, and be alert to signs of a drunk driver, such as

  • unusually wide turns
  • weaving, swerving 
  • hugging the center line, or driving left of center 
  • excessively fast or slow speeds 
  • stopping suddenly without apparent cause 
  • inconsistent turn signals 
  • driving with headlights off in the dark 
  • driving with windows rolled down in cold weather. 

If a driver ahead of you seems impaired, don’t try to pass. Maintain extra distance, and be prepared to stop suddenly. If the driver is behind you, turn right at the next intersection to let him get ahead of you. If the driver is coming toward you, slow down, move to the right, and stop.

Beyond the Highway

Alcohol can be deadly anytime, any place. The dangers of drinking and driving are clear, but some other facts and situations to keep in mind:

  • As many as 40 percent of fatal accidents (falls, drownings, etc.) involve alcohol. Alcohol use on or near the water is especially hazardous. 
  • Alcohol and depression are a deadly duo. One third of all suicides occur while the person is under the influence of alcohol or other drugs.
  • About 10,000 people die each year from alcohol related overdoses. Large amounts of alcohol are toxic—as lethal as any other poisonous substance. 
  • Drinking before or after heavy exercise (a tennis or softball game, volleyball or football scrimmages) can be particularly dangerous. Exertion coupled with alcohol can put a nasty strain on even the best-trained athlete. 
  • Alcohol consumption plays a role in violence. About 10,000 murders occur each year in situations involving alcohol. 
  • Anyone who is intoxicated is more vulnerable to crime, from muggings to rape.

Don’t Get Bombed — Get Involved!

  • Start a campus group to raise awareness about alcohol issues. For example, many colleges have chapters of BACCHUS (Boost Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students). For more information contact BACCHUS of the U.S., Inc., PO Box 10430, Denver, CO 80210, or call 303-871-3068. 
  • Team up with your highway patrol or AAA to present Safe Driving Seminars. 
  • Volunteer to assist high school Drivers’ Ed. classes to heighten the awareness of teens to the dangers of drinking and driving. 
  • Kick off a special event, such as homecoming or graduations, with a mammoth line-up of smashed cars from alcohol-related crashes. The cops and the junkyard will be happy to help. 
  • Start a “Tipsy Taxi” program to provide free rides to anyone who needs a safe ride home. Contact campus shuttle service or a local cab company.