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Alcoholism Essay, Research Paper

Introduction

Teenage years are filled with uncertainty. Intense pressure to perform and succeed is felt by many teenagers. Perceived failure at home and/or school can lead to the need for escape. Teenagers often see their parents react to stress by drinking, thus providing a bad example for them. They also see their favourite movie actors or actresses getting drunk when they go to a movie so they think that it’s OK for them to do it but what they don’t know is it really hurts them in the long run. The desire to be accepted and popular among their friends encourages many to begin drinking. The ability to consume a lot of alcohol is associated with being a “real man or woman”. When teens see adults drink heavily and movie stars on screen getting drunk, the message that gets through is that “it’s cool to drink” which is the wrong one to be sending.

What is Alcohol?

The critical ingredient common to all alcoholic beverages is ethyl alcohol or ethanol. It is a clear, tasteless liquid formed through the fermentation of sugars by yeast spores. The amount of alcohol produced depends on the type and amount of sugar in the original mixture, the type of yeast used, the temperature maintained during the fermentation process.

What is alcoholism?

Alcoholism is an illness, it is a condition that people develop when they have lost control over their drinking and are unable to stop themselves. Alcoholism is not contagious. You cannot ?catch? it. This condition is developed over a long period of time, but everyone is susceptible to it.

Is there a cure? Sadly, there is no cure for alcoholism. The only solution we have come up with is prevention.

Teenagers today have no idea what alcoholism really is. They think that they can never become alcoholics. They think that it could never happen to them, but they are wrong. Stress, Family problems and the desire to be popular are often the cause of teenage alcoholism.

Signs that you are becoming an alcoholic:

Physical Fatigue, repeated health complaints, red and glazed eyes, and a lasting cough.

Emotional Personality change, sudden mood changes, irritability, irresponsible behaviour, low self-esteem, poor judgment, depression, and a general lack of interest.

Family Starting arguments, breaking rules, or withdrawing from the family.

School Decreased interests, negative attitude, drop in grades, many absences, truancy, and discipline problems.

Social New friends who are less interested in standard home and school activities, problems with the law, and changes to less conventional styles in dress and music.

Alcohol and Crime

In America, crime is inextricably related to alcohol and other drugs. More than 1.1 million annual arrests for illicit drug violations, almost 1.4 million arrests for driving while intoxicated, 480,000 arrests for liquor law violations and 704,000 arrests for drunkenness come to a total of 4.3 million arrests for alcohol and other drug statutory crimes. That total accounts for over one-third of all arrests in this country. The impaired judgment and violence induced by alcohol contribute to alcohol-related crime. Rapes, fights, and assaults leading to injury, manslaughter, and homicide often are linked with alcohol because the perpetrator, the victim, or both were drinking. The economic cost of AOD-related crime is $61.8 billion annually. Many perpetrators of violent crime were also using illicit drugs. Some of these drugs, such as PCP and steroids, may induce violence. These drugs can also be a catalyst for aggressive-prone individuals who exhibit violent behaviour as a result of taking them.

The need for preventing alcohol and other drug problems is clear when the following statistics are examined:

Australian Statistics

Alcohol related motor vehicle accidents tend to be highest for drivers in the 21 – 29 age group but is also high for the 17-39 age group.

American Statistics

Alcohol is a key factor in up to 68 percent of manslaughters, 62 percent of assaults, 54 percent of murders/attempted murders, 48 percent of robberies, and 44 percent of burglaries.

Among jail inmates, 42.2 percent of those convicted of rape reported being under the influence of alcohol or alcohol and other drugs at the time of the offence.

Over 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women arrested for property crimes (burglary, larceny, and robbery) in 1990, who were voluntarily tested, tested positive for illicit drug use.

When students want to talk to or with someone about their problem, 50.4 percent report that they would choose a peer 62.1 percent a parent 39.1 percent an adult friend and 30.4 percent a relative other that a parent. Alcoholic’s Anonymous does not engage in the fields of alcoholism research, medical or psychiatric treatment, education, or advocacy in any form, although members may participate in such activities as individuals. Traditionally, Alcoholics Anonymous does not accept or seek financial support from outside sources, and members preserve personal anonymity in print and broadcast media and otherwise at the public level. A. A. experience has always been made available freely to all who sought it – business people, spiritual leaders, civic groups, law enforcement officers, health and welfare personnel, educators, representatives of military establishments, institutional authorities, representatives of organised labor, and many others. But A. A. never endorses, supports, becomes affiliated with, or expresses an opinion on the programs of others in the field of alcoholism, since such actions would be beyond the scope of the Fellowship’s primary purpose.

Australian Statistics on Alcohol

15 ? 17 Year Olds

 71% of 15-17 year olds surveyed had consumed alcohol in the last 12 months;

 The proportion of teenagers who believe that more people their age are now drinking too much alcohol compared with twelve months previously has increased from 70% in a comparable study in 1988 to 78% of 15-17 year olds in the current study;

 39% of teenagers had drunk alcohol within the previous two weeks;

 On the most recent drinking occasion, 42% of males (who had ever drunk alcohol) compared with 34% of females, consumed the equivalent of 5 or more drinks and 32% of males compared with 24% of females consumed 7 or more drinks;

 Almost two-thirds of 15-17 year olds (63% of those who had ever tried alcohol) had consumed alcohol in a home setting where there were adults present, including 55% of those who had consumed seven or more drinks;

 68% reported they had ‘experienced seeing violence by someone who was drunk and aggressive’ and ‘had had to look after a friend after they had drunk too much’; and

 83% of teenagers who had consumed five or more drinks on their last drinking occasion reported that they had witnessed violence compared with 49% of those reporting they had never had an alcoholic drink.

18 ? 24 Year Olds

 94% of 18-24 year olds reported that they had ever consumed alcohol and of those 62% reported drinking in the last seven days;

 Among males, 51% had consumed 5 or more standard drinks and 30% had drunk 10 or more standard drinks on their last drinking occasion;

 Among females, 36% had drunk 5 or more standard drinks and 15% had drunk 10 or more drinks on their last drinking occasion;

 Among 18-24 year olds, the most commonly reported venue for drinking on the last occasion was at a friends house (23%) however, licensed premises are also common venues for alcohol consumption (eg.22% reported a hotel, 20% a club, and 12% a nightclub).

Parents

 Just over half of parents (53%) considered ‘underage drinking’ to be a problem, with two out of three single parents (66%) believing this to be the case;

 When asked which issue posed the greatest problem for teenagers (17 years and younger), more parents identified unemployment (29%) and ‘taking hard drugs’ (25%) than ‘drinking too much alcohol’ (13%);

 51% of parents agreed with the statement that ‘most parents find it hard to talk to their teenagers about drinking alcohol’;

 Parents reported an increased, although reluctant, acceptance of underage drinking and a belief that children are drinking at a younger age. Almost all parents (95%) agreed with the statement that ‘it’s parents’ responsibility to teach their children when, where and how to drink, with 69% of parents strongly agreeing. However, parents did not see it as their sole responsibility; and

 89% of parents saw it as the role of family to teach young people to drink responsibly with 18% seeing this as being the role of government and 16% school education.

Alcohol and Driving

Drink Driving is one of the main causes of road deaths in Australia. The factors leading to this are

 Alcohol affects all drivers because it is a depressant ? it slows brain function. This reduces the ability to respond to situations, make decisions and take actions.

 Alcohol affects judgement of speed and distance. People can?t tell accurately how fast they are going or how far away from others they are.

 Alcohol also gives a false sense of confidence, which makes people take risks they wouldn?t normally take.

According to the Roads and Traffic Authority, half of the accidents occurring on Friday, Saturday or Sundays nights are due to drink driving.

Drivers aged between 21 and 29 are the highest risk factors contributing to this, though drivers aged 17 ? 39 is also very high. Statistics show that drink drivers are mostly male (over 85% of all charges). There has been a change in community attitudes towards drink driving, with more and more people opting not to drink and drive. This is mainly contributed to the ?shock? advertising that the Queensland Government has undertaken.

Another deterrent that the Queensland Government has undertaken was the introduction of Random Breath Tests (RBT) in 1982. Since their introduction, road deaths caused by drink driving have dropped from 40% to 33 %.

Australian Statistics on Drink Driving

 In 1981, 44% of all motorists and drivers killed had a BAC (Blood Alcohol Concentration) of 0.05 or higher. In 1998, this was reduced to 26 %.

 In 1998, there were 109 pedestrians (over 16 years old) killed by a driver with a BAC of 0.05 or higher.

 In 1999, 16.5 % of all fatal accidents were known to involve drink driving.

 Proportion of drink drivers involved in fatal crashes ? Age & Gender

Age Males Females Total

Under 40 71 10 81

40 and Over 16 3 19


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