Drugs and Alcohol: The Real Story

There is no single age group of people more affected by alcohol and drugs than young people.  In some ways it feels like it is an issue everywhere:  for you, your family and your friends.  Plain and simple, try as you might, you cannot escape the issues of alcohol and drugs.

Nationwide, alcohol and drugs affect each and every one of us, directly or indirectly:  in our homes, in our families, in our school, in our dorm, in our community, town or city.

As a young person, you’ll hear everything there is to hear about alcohol and other drugs from friends, your brother or sister or other young people.

Unfortunately, much of what you hear from them is based on myth and misconception and, as a result, it may not always be true or accurate.  So, like anything else in life, you need to do your own homework and learn about alcohol and learn about drugs.

For some of you, you have already seen firsthand the dangers of alcohol and drugs and the damage they can do to the individual, to relationships, to friendships and to families.  Maybe you are concerned about mom or dad, an uncle, a friend, a neighbor or even yourself.  If so, you will find this information to be helpful.

So, what’s the REAL story about alcohol and other drugs?

Facts about Alcohol and Drugs:

FACT:  Alcohol and drugs are the leading causes of crime among youth.

FACT:  Alcohol and drugs are the leading factors in teenage suicide.

FACT: About four out of five college students drink alcohol.

FACT: About half of college students who drink, also consume alcohol through binge drinking.

FACT: Alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth. More kids try alcohol than try cigarettes and a substantial number of young people begin drinking at very young ages.

FACT: Adolescents drink less frequently than adults, but when they do drink, they drink more heavily than adults.

Drugs and Alcohol

Why do some young people drink alcohol?

Young people, like adults, drink alcohol for many different reasons.  Some of the reasons may seem obvious, but understanding the feelings behind these reasons–as well as how everyday teen life comes into play–can be difficult.

  • Young people often drink to check out from family problems or issues with school/grades;
  • loneliness, low self–esteem, depression, anxiety disorder and other mental health issues;
  • to deal with the pressures of everyday social situations;
  • to change their image or to fit in when moving to a new school or town;
  • to gain confidence or lose inhibitions;
  • and young people are more likely to start experimenting with alcohol if they have parents who drink and if their parents don’t give them clear messages about not drinking.

FACT:  More than 23 million people over the age of 12 are addicted to alcohol and other drugs, affecting millions more people…..spouses, children, family members, friends, neighbors and colleagues at work.

FACT:  Not everyone is using drugs.

One reason some teens decide to start smoking marijuana, drinking alcohol or using other drugs is because they think “everyone is doing it.”  And, since they think that the majority of their peers are using drugs, they draw the conclusion that it must be OK.  If most of the people that you are hanging out with are drinking alcohol or using drugs, it’s easy to think that “everyone is doing it.”  But statistics don’t back up that claim.

Drugs and Alcohol

Most teens aren’t using drugs

Consider the facts. Most students go all the way through high school without ever doing drugs or getting drunk. The annual Monitoring the Future (MTF) nationwide survey of thousands of 12th grade students asks seniors about their use of alcohol and drugs during their lifetime:

  • 53.3% never used any illegal drug.
  • 58% never smoked marijuana.
  • 90.5% never did inhalants.
  • 90.7% never did tranquilizers.
  • 91.8% never did barbiturates.
  • 93.5% never did ecstasy.
  • 94% never did cocaine.
  • 96.1% never did LSD.
  • 97.6% never did methamphetamine.
  • 98.8% never did heroin.

Make your own choices

Given the above statistics, if you are hanging out with a group in which the majority of kids are using drugs to get high, you may want to think about making some new friends.  You may be headed toward an alcohol and drug problem if you continue to hang around others who routinely drink alcohol, smoke marijuana, abuse prescription drugs or use illegal drugs.

You don’t have to go along to get along.

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