Why Demonize Drinking?
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Why Demonize Drinking?


Did you know that April is Alcohol Awareness Month? Well, according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence it is and has been since 1987 when they deemed it so. In observance, The Daily Press reported that somewhere between April Fools and Arbor Day, communities all over the United States will be participating in joint efforts to create awareness about the dangers of underage drinking. These grassroots campaigns are meant not only to educate but also to offer up applicable solutions to the long-running teenage epidemic.

Yet teenage drinking isn’t the concern it used be because there are so many more accessible and convenient ways to get f**ked up these days.

Teens Are Wising Up

Contrary to what my friends may think, I don’t spend my free time studying drug and alcohol abuse statistics. I do, however, spend a good deal of time sitting in the rooms of 12-step recovery programs in Los Angeles, and if I didn’t know better, I would say that people under the age of 21 barely even drink anymore. As the laws around drunk driving and public intoxication have gotten stricter, it seems the Millennial Generation has smartened up when it comes to partying. Because, practically speaking, drinking alcohol is something of a nuisance; it’s a high that’s hard to hide and hard to get. Marijuana and prescription medication is much easier to get your hands on when you’re a teen—and with pills, you completely forgo the suspicions typically aroused by boozy breath. Even the kids who enjoy the old-fashioned effects of alcohol have taken to ingesting it through other orifices (vodka-soaked tampons or beer enemas anyone?).

We Don’t Scare Them

The other thing we might be missing the mark on is the general demonized concept of underage drinking. To say that kids shouldn’t drink merely because they are below the legal age screams of the old “because I said so” logic that goes against everything adolescents stand for: the claiming of independence and questioning of authority that is a rite of passage and ingrained in teenage DNA. While at 37, I can now viscerally understand the horror of my 14-year-old self experimenting with alcohol, kids at that age have zero past experience of life consequences to factor into their decision-making process. So when adults tell kids that underage drinking is bad, we force them either take our word for it or not—and I have always felt the seemingly nonsensical rationale of this has cost adults credibility in the teen world.

So perhaps instead of polarizing the kids who want to party by building a foundation for them to bask their rebellion in, why not try humoring them? By taking the same information about the dangers of underage drinking and shifting the focus to the dangers of irresponsible drinking, we might have a chance at establishing some respect and authority with them. Because—and I’m reporting on the front lines on this one—the scaring and shaming tactics don’t work if you’re dealing with a kid who’s determined to drink.

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About Author

Danielle Stewart is a Los Angeles-based writer and recovering comedian. She has written for Showtime, E!, and MTV, as well as print publications such as Us Weekly and Life & Style Magazine. She returned to school and is currently working her way towards a master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. She loves coffee, Law & Order SVU, and her emotional support dog, Benson.