How Serious is the Shitshow Kids Put on When They Drink? Very.
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How Serious is the Shitshow Kids Put on When They Drink? Very.

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Every April, the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) reminds us that booze isn’t as innocuous as one of those stupid Corona ads might imply. Of course, it’s nice stuff for those “normies” who can knock back a piss-colored cerveza on the coast of Cancún with immunity, but booze has a nice habit of tearing the life out of an alcoholic whether they’re drinking on the sand in St. Bart’s or in a dive in Bakersfield, CA. Drinking in a dive in Bakersfield is bad enough, but it’s even worse if you’re underage.

Early Education

For the 2015 Alcohol Awareness Month, NCADD chose the theme “For the Health of It: Early Education on Alcoholism and Addiction” with the intention of drawing attention to the shitshow kids put on for themselves and their families when they hit the Jack. As part of this awareness effort, there will be lots of NCADD people knocking on the doors of schools, colleges and other organizations to encourage kids and young adults under 21 that may have a problem to get help.

“Underage drinking is a complex issue, one that can only be solved through a sustained and cooperative effort,” says Andrew Pucher, president of NCADD. “As a nation, we need to wake up to the reality that for some, alcoholism and addiction develop at a young age and that intervention, treatment, and recovery support are essential for them and their families. We can’t afford to wait any longer.”

You’d think the underage drinking might be a problem only for adolescents between 12 and 18. Sadly, that’s not the case. According to NCADD, an average of 10 percent of those aged nine to 10 have already started hitting the sauce, and one-third of kids start drinking before the age of 13. That’s a lot of whippersnappers drinking and, according to NCADD’s records, approximately 10.8 million people aged 12 to 20 have copped to drinking within the last month.

This would be fine if there weren’t some gnarly side effects to the partying. Underage drinking is the leading cause of death by injury in the U.S., and it’s the main cause of death for people under 21—a total of 5,000 underagers end up dead each year from alcohol-related injuries. It also increases the likelihood that they’ll end up an alkie later on, along with a bunch of other issues like shitty grades, suicide and even death from dangerous binge drinking.

No, Really, Hangovers Suck

It seems people are more afraid of gluten and lactose than they are of alcohol, and we hear non-stop about how cigarettes will kill us (make no mistake, they will) and how drugs make us dumb, but when was the last time you saw a PSA about the perils of alcoholism, alcohol abuse and underage drinking?

Often in the mainstream media, heavy drinking is just a way to get laughs. You don’t have to watch all three Hangovers to get the Hollywood message—drinking can cause bad things to happen, but at the end of the script everything works out okay and it turns out that all that imbibing was more funny than tragic and it ended up bringing all sorts of incongruous characters together for a crazy weekend in Vegas.

With a culture that accepts and encourages hard drinking, NCADD might find itself with a problem that can’t be fixed. Just how  do you keep kids off booze?

Now if Justin Bieber and Taylor Swift started sipping mocktails on stage, we might get somewhere.

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About Author

Tracy Chabala is a freelance writer for many publications including the LA Times, LA Weekly, Smashd, VICE and Salon. She writes mostly about food, technology and culture, in addition to addiction and mental health. She holds a Master's in Professional Writing from USC and is finishing up her novel.