September 29, 2003
"WASHINGTON -- More young people drink alcohol than use other
drugs or smoke tobacco, and underage drinking costs the nation an
estimated $53 billion annually in losses stemming from traffic fatalities,
violent crime, and other behaviors that threaten the well-being
of America's youth."
National Academies of Science
Updated source: http://www.infocusmagazine.org/3.3/hss_underage.html
Since many teens tune out
at the onset of one more monologue about the evils of alcohol, the
following paragraph is just the facts. What does the body do with
alcohol when it is ingested, and what are the noticeable--and more
subtle--biological results? No value judgments; no ages: this is
what happens to any body when it ingests alcohol.
"When people drink,
alcohol is absorbed into their bloodstream. From there, it affects
the central nervous system (the brain and spinal cord), which controls
virtually all body functions. Alcohol is a depressant, which means
it slows the function of the central nervous system. That's why
drinking small amounts of alcohol reduces anxiety. Alcohol actually
blocks some of the messages trying to get to the brain. This alters
your perceptions, your emotions, and even your movements, vision,
and hearing....When large amounts of alcohol are consumed in a short
period of time, alcohol poisoning can result....Violent vomiting
is usually the first symptom, as the body tries to rid itself of
the alcohol. Extreme sleepiness, unconsciousness, difficulty breathing,
dangerously low blood sugar, seizures, and even death may result."
While we may relate alcohol
related deaths to traffic accidents, falls, or even liver problems
and heart problems many years down the road, alcohol poisoning can
also be fatal--and can be the result of one night of drinking too
You may know someone who
has passed out, gotten hurt, or even died as a result of an out-of-control
night of drinking. You may not. Have you ever been concerned for
the health and/or safety of a friend or relative who you thought
was drinking too much? Well, doctors and scientists are concerned
about underage drinking, in general; and they think they have some
ideas about how to "curb underage drinking."
"Study Targets Underage
WASHINGTON, September 10, 2003 "...Calling its report a wake-up
call, the Institute [Institute of Medicine and the National Research
Council] urged a number of steps to curb underage drinking, including
higher federal and state taxes, better state identification cards
and more aggressive efforts to detect and stop underage drinking
Related teaching resources: Reach Out Now, SAMHSA
This brings up some questions...
Questions of the Week:
Why do teens drink as much as they do? Will these attempts to slow
access to alcohol help "curb underage drinking"? What
would help teens, young adults, and adults to drink more responsibly?
If a person is under 21, is there such a thing as responsible drinking--or
is the only way to be responsible to not drink at all? With all
of the focus on getting teens to stop drinking, are the reasons
that some teens and young adults drink irresponsibly being addressed
and dealt with? What do teens (and adults) need to know about alcohol,
and how could this information be presented so that teens would
hear it without tuning it out?
Please email me with any ideas or suggestions.
Note: Due to increasing amounts of SPAM sent to this account, please include "QOW" in the subject line when sending me email.
I look forward to reading
what you have to say.
Health Community Coordinator
Access Excellence @ the National Health Museum