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Alcohol Essay, Research Paper

Sketch Draft

Topic: Alcohol

Narrowed Topic: The laws and regulations of alcohol

Major Questions: Why is alcohol such an issue? How has alcohol affected people? Why was there prohibition? What does alcohol do to inhibitions?

Thesis: Alcohol is used all over the world, but not many people can contain themselves while under the influence of it.

Topic Sentence 1: Drunk driving is one of the major killers among teens today.


a. Harris 164

b. Harris 165

c. Holland

d. Davis

Topic Sentence 2: Under age drinking is becoming more and more of a problem, especially in colleges.


a. Evans 97

b. Evans 103

c. Evans 104

d. Whitman 42

e. Hayes

Topic Sentence 3: Prohibition was a result of the belief that alcohol and drunkenness weakened the American family.


a. L.A. Times A8

b. Andrews A1

c. Horner

d. Bryant 43

The Real Deal With Alcohol

One night a girl named Carolyn Hayes was going to stay the night at a friend s house. She went over to Katherine Satoni s house around 8pm and told her parents that she would be home around 11 am the following day. That night, around 8:30 pm, the two girls went to a party at Katherine s boyfriends house. Everything seemed to be going good and everyone was having a good time drinking and hanging out. Around 2am, Katherine, Carolyn, and two guys were drunk, but still decided it would be all right to drive to the store to get some cigarettes. The legal limit for the blood alcohol level of a person over the age of 21 in California is .01. Katherine s boyfriend, Chris, who was driving had a BAC of .09. After getting the cigarettes, the four teens starting driving to Katherine s house. But they never made it there. Chris ran a red light and his Pontiac Sunfire was hit by a semi truck going about 60 mph. Katherine and Carolyn were thrown around the back seat because they weren t wearing seatbelts. Katherine is paralyzed from the neck down. Chris lived and had broken his arms. Carolyn, my cousin and the other boy Todd were on the passenger side where the truck hit and the two were killed instantly. This was three years ago and my family, as well as the others learned about the fatal decision to drink and drive first hand. Carolyn would have been 20 in October, but because of irresponsible behavior, she didn t live to see it.

This is just one of many stories that have been told over the years. There are many accidents that are alcohol-related, and not all of them involve an automobile, but they all include poor judgment. Alcohol has been consumed all over the world for centuries, but some people still can not contain themselves while under the influence.

This ends up being tragic and everyone suffers. Drunk driving and under age drinking are major problems and the only law against it was decades ago with the Prohibition laws. Today there are many groups that retaliate against misuses of alcohol, but tighter enforcement may help too.

Drunk driving is one of the major killers among teens today. According to Jonathan Harris, nearly one-third of alcohol related traffic deaths are caused by problem drinkers and alcoholics and alcohol is involved in half of all fatal crashes (164). It is sad when you realize that so many people can be so blind. It is also hard to imagine that 23,623 people died in alcohol related crashes in 1987 (Harris 165) and it is still climbing every year. It appears that one death in an alcohol related crash takes place every twenty-two minutes (Holland, internet). According to Dr. Arlene Davis, alcohol-related accidents kill 11,000 youths aged sixteen to twenty-four each year and that this age group is the only one in the United States whose life expectancy is declining (internet). I can t see that that people are dying in the prime of their lives because they re irresponsible enough to trade their lives for one night of drinking. Alcohol is a depressant and makes you feel worse if you are down. If you drink to have fun, there are a lot of other ways to have fun besides drinking. If you don t think so then you should at least be smart enough not to drive or put yourself in positions that could be detrimental and affect the rest of you life. Carolyn didn t think about that and her decision ended her life and devastated many people that loved her. It seems that kids aren t educated enough about this and under age drinking is a big issue that needs to be discussed.

Under age drinking is becoming more and more of a problem, especially in colleges. According to Roberta Evans, and to 1994 estimates, three million alcoholics and alcohol abusers are under twenty one years of age (97). Many kids don t know what drinking is about and the consequences that follow. Many young people think that it is a game and they participate in chugalug contests that often leave the competitors violently sick to their stomachs, unconscious, or worse (Evans 103). However it seems that the awareness of the problem is becoming greater. It seems that students used to wear T-shirts reading PARTY TILL YOU PUKE [now] replaced by PARTY SMART (Evans 104). It is good to see that groups such as BACCHUS (Boost Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students) and SADD (Students Against Drunk Driving) work on and off campus to reduce the problems associated with drinking. Robert Whitman reported in an issue of Newsweek nationwide drives against alcohol abuse by the youth have resulted in significant gains (42). My aunt Cindy, Carolyn s mother, has joined MADD (Mothers Against Drunk Driving) and she says the support and the time and effort that people put forward for this cause is tremendous, and yet there are so many more people that could get involved (interview). It is true, there is so much we have yet to do, and it shouldn t take the death of a loved one to figure out that under age drinking is out of control and we need to do something about it. I don t think prohibition is the answer, but enough people did in the earlier part of this century.

Prohibition was the result in the belief that alcohol and drunkenness weakened the American family. In the L.A. Times on August 4, 1927, it was written that prohibition

has resulted in the end of family destruction, both in itself and for the benefit if the country (A1). Seven years earlier in the L.A. Times again. Harry E. Andrews wrote,

prohibition will destroy our country if not measured or stopped completely (A8). Prohibition seemed a likely solution, but according to my great-grandfather, everyone was drinking a lot more when it was taboo. They would drink at home, in the back of closed bars, even in church halls. Prohibition was a horrible solution that made many alcoholics (Horner). In an article in Newsweek, it seems that a beer commercial is sparking patriotism in Canada. According to Adam Bryant, the commercial has deeply penetrated Canadian consciousness and become the center of a national dialogue, with acres of news print and hours of radio time devoted to dissecting its meaning (43). It is interesting to see how alcohol has played such a key role in every society and how so many people have fallen into its hype. Prohibition didn t work, nowadays Canada is using alcohol to show patriotism and yet thousand s of people are dying each year and it stars with an image. Something needs to be done to control the situation, and it starts with the decision to be a smart drinker, if drinking at all.

Carolyn s death sparked something inside of me and I made the conscious decision not to drink because I saw how badly it hurt my family. It hurt so much to see how badly her parents took the whole thing, and I never want my parents to feel like that. I think that the organizations we have around the country are awesome and that everyone should participate at least once in an activity that does save lives and see how a little bit can go a long way, especially when it pertains to saving a life.

Works Cited

Andrews, Harry E. A Plain Statement. The Los Angeles Times 1 Oct. 1920: A1.

Bryant, Adams. Message in A Beer Bottle. Newsweek 29 May 2000:43.

Davis, Arlene. Facts that hurt. 30 Nov. 2000 http://www.askarlene.com.html.

Evans, Roberta. Alcohol and Alcoholism. New York: Franklin Watts, 1996.

Harris, Jonathan. This Drinking Nation. New York: Four Winds Press, 1994.

Hayes, Cindy. Personal Interview. 20 Nov. 2000.

Holland, Joseph. Tragic Ends. 30 Nov. 2000 http://www.alcoholcrisis.com/josholland.html.

The Days News Summed Up. The Los Angeles Times 4 Aug. 1927:A1.

Whitman, Robert. Sobering Up. Newsweek 22 Nov.1999: 30-31.

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