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High school drinking culture neglects consequences

April 27, 2015

st0427-01It’s Friday night, and for Jeremy, a high school senior, that means that it’s party time.

He’s been going to parties ever since sophomore year, and partying has become a part of his identity. For him, parties are his weekly getaway from the stresses of reality, as he can catch up with friends, make new friends, and forget about school.

Most importantly however, Jeremy can drink at parties. He loves drinking; ever since that first party in sophomore year, he’s developed a love for alcohol, and getting drunk is one of the top reasons that partying is important.

Unfortunately, Jeremy’s story is not unique to him. Underage drinking affects nearly a quarter of teens between the ages of 12 and 20, according to a 2012 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Slotted within that demographic of teens as a junior in high school, I see the effects of this first hand: many of my friends now make up part of that percentage, and I find it’s easy to convince myself that underage drinking is the norm in high school.

That’s the saddening part. The ever-persistent high school party culture has ingrained in teens the idea that “everybody does it.” Consequently, in no way is it shocking when one hears that “so-and-so got drunk last night.”

But while this is “okay” on the moral compasses of high school students, teens seem to neglect the health consequences involved with alcohol consumption, especially at such a young age. Teens are especially prone to health concerns because parties are usually associated with binge drinking. These concerns cover all bases, ranging from alcohol-related accidents (driving under the influence, unplanned sexual activity) to long-term effects.

These long-term effects include high-blood pressure, stroke, liver disease, nerve damage, ulcers, alcohol dependence, and malnutrition. Also, the developing brain is only negatively affected by the consumption of alcohol.

These serious risks are dismissed by teens as effects that only afflict older people, but doctors report that the habits that eventually lead to those unwanted consequences start now.

Whereas underage drinking will remain an issue amongst high school students, teens must start to recognize that it has its consequences.

 

st0427-01-1 Min Jae Kang
West Ranch High School 11th Grade

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