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Research Paper Teen Alcohol Abuse

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From unsupervised parties at home to college visits, the social calendars of most teens are full of alcohol. Other drugs rise and fall in popularity from generation to generation, but alcohol never really goes out of style. From being worshiped by the ancient Babylonians to being forbidden to teenagers, alcohol has caused many problems. Today, drinking is the drug of choice by teens and causes most wrecks and deaths today. To understand alcohol people must first know the history of alcohol, the effects of teen drinking, and the solutions to teen drinking.

Alcohol has been all around the world for centuries and has become a custom of people all over. No one knows for sure who discovered alcohol, but we know how different types of alcohol are made. Just as well, no know knows when alcohol was discovered. There are no records of the discovery or discoverers of alcohol. Although historians do know alcohol "was used by primitive people and recorded as early as 10,000 years ago in the Neolithic period and by European civilization"(Milgram 22). As early as 5000 B.C., the ancient Babylonians brewed, the process of making beer, their beer in religious temples because it was considered a gift from God. Beer is an alcoholic beverage made by fermentation of cereal grains such as, wheat, rye, corn, or barley; beer contains 3 to 6 percent alcohol. Besides the ancient Babylonians, the ancient Egyptians drank beer. The Egyptians called their beer hek, which was made from barley bread. The bread was crumbled into jars, covered with water, and allowed to ferment. The Egyptian pharaohs blessed this beer in the honor of the goddess of nature, Isis. Egyptians handed out free jugs of beer to peasant workers, and by no surprise drunkenness was a common problem in ancient Egypt (Nielsen 13).

The strongest alcohol drinks are called liquors or spirits. Liquor was discovered in the eighteenth century A.D. by an Arabian alchemist named Geber. Geber made liquor by distillation, burning away the impurities that formed in wine during fermentation and isolated the remaining liquids. As a result, the concentrated liquid had a higher alcoholic content, which was "mainly flavored alcohol and water"(Milgram 65). Liquor was discovered in Europe 500 years later by Arnaud de Villanueva, when he made brandy. Arnaud claimed that brandy would cure all humanity's diseases, prolong life, maintain youth, and clear away ill humor. In the 1600's gin, akravit, and whiskey were discovered in many other countries. Then in the 1700's, the Americans invented bourbon.

Teenagers rarely think before they do many things. Many times teenagers go to big parites or little get togethers with their friends on the weekends just to drink. Their first thought is not about death, their grades, or alcoholism; their main purpose is to get drunk fast and sober up before going home by their set curfews. At parties, teenagers have an average of five or more beers in one night. In the United States teenage drinking has become a major problem, with about 3.3 million teens as problem drinkers. "One-fourth of all seventh through twelfth graders admit to drinking at least once a week"(Nielson 47). About forty percent of twelfth graders said they had one episode of heavy drinking in the past two weeks. Although no one knows why teens turn to drinking, various studies show that the amount of alcohol changes by their geographical location (Nielsen 47).

One major problem with teens and alcohol is death. Many teenagers go to parties and drive home thinking that everything is all right, but "twenty- one percent of young drivers involved in fatal crashes have been drinking" (MADD 1). On a normal weekend, an average of one teenager dies in a car crash every hour, and nearly fifty percent of these crashes were involved with alcohol. "Uses of alcohol and other drugs are associated with the leading causes of death and injury among teenagers and young adults" (NCADD 1). Not only do car wrecks kill teenagers, so does compulsive drinking. Alcohol, a depressant on the central nervous system, is detectable when someone begins to have slurred speech, slow reaction time, or staggered walking (Milgram 20). The more a person drinks the higher the risk of having an alcohol overdose. Some signs of an overdose are "mental confusion, stupor, coma, seizures, bluish skin color, low body temperature, slow or irregular breathing, and vomiting while sleeping"(Alcohol Education Program 4). If these symptoms appear, call 911 for an ambulance, but never leave the victim alone.

Excessive drinking, it can lead to teenage alcoholism. People who begin drinking at the age of 15 are four-times more likely to develop alcoholism than those who start drinking at the age of 21. Most teens take their first drinks at the age of 13. Alcoholism begins by first tasting, then social drinking, next abusive drinking, and last becoming a problem drinker or alcoholic. Many factors such as age, gender, and location, indicate that economic factors have little effects on teens (Nielsen 50). Most teenagers do not know why they drink but most do anyway. Peer pressure has a lot to do with teen drinking, as well as the people they hang out with. Teens turn to alcohol or other drugs when they are depressed or they try to fit in. By doing this, they become alcoholics.

Under- age drinking is not an issue that is being ignored. The government, parents, groups, and other countries are trying to come up with solutions to teen drinking. Many laws have already been passed to stop teenagers from drinking.

The National Minimum Drinking Age Act was signed into law on July 17, 1984 by President Reagan. The act strongly encourages states to have laws prohibiting the "purchase and public possession" of alcoholic beverages by anyone under 21 years of age by withholding a portion of federal-aid highway funds from state without such laws. On March 26, 1986, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administrations and the Federal Highway Administration published a joint rule implementing the statue. (Net Biz 1)

Most U.S. states have the Age- 21 law, but in Louisiana you can be 19 to enter a bar. Because of this law, the youth drinks less and statistics have gone down a little. With the technology that we have today, many youth, from 20 to 35 percent, have possession of a fake identification. In Texas, having a fake identification is a third degree felony and will be subject to an automatic license suspension of 90 days to a year and a fine of up to $5000. Another law in Texas that helps cut down teenage drinking is the curfew. This law says teens can not drive between midnight and 5 a.m. unless accomplished by a licensed driver 21 years old or older. If a teen is stopped past curfew,



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