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Underage drinking a problem for teens

Let’s Party!

Blake Zitterich, Reporter

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The adults Wasilla underestimate some parties happening in secret every weekend where teens are getting drunk and high. On average, there are at least a half-dozen parties every weekend, and that is just in Wasilla. Even more are held in Anchorage, Eagle River, and Palmer.

These under age students drink until they blackout drunk and puke. Many refer to it as “puke and rally” which is drinking until you puke, and then continue drinking alcohol. This kind of binge drinking is very dangerous, but even more deadly to the youth. According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC), binge drinking is responsible for over 4,000 deaths of underage kids. More than 90 percent of alcohol consumed worldwide is consumed by binge drinking. The statistics go further and show that 33 percent of underage teens stated they have at least tried alcohol, and 18 percent of those kids admitted to binge drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA) reports that ages 12-20 consume 11 percent of all alcohol in the United States primarily by binge drinking.

According to the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation (PIRE), teen drinking in Alaska cost the state in medical costs, loss of work, and pain and suffering $192.9 million. Data from 2012 showed crimes resulting from underage drinking to be an estimated two homicides; 2,600 nonfatal violent crimes such as rape, robbery, and assault; 1,700 property crimes including burglary, larceny, and car theft; and 32,000 other crimes including vandalism.

Once the body hits a point of drinking where the body vomits, it is alcohol poisoning. The body rejects the alcohol, and feeding more poison down the throat is how youths die. This kind of drinking is encouraged by other kids because they find it funny to get “wasted.” It’s not funny. It’s more dangerous than teens understand.

The teen drinkers often ‘party hop’ from one house to another. This is very dangerous because more often than not, there is not a designated driver (DD) and will the teens drive drunk. Even with a DD, the drunk passengers are a huge distraction and risk to the driver, making it difficult to focus on driving the car.

Micheal Bonadurer, Wasilla High School’s safety officer, was interviewed on his personal thoughts and experiences with underage drinking. Officer Bonadurer said, “I think it is tragic. It causes grief for families. I also think it causes more problems because it affects your ability to make good decisions”.

When Officer Bonadurer arrives at a scene where underage drinking is present, the first step he takes is always to make sure everyone in the house is OK. Many people think that cops bust party just to ruin their night, but Bonadurer stressed that the police are there to do the right thing and stop kids from breaking the law and exposing themselves to bad decisions.

The next step for Bonadurer at a house party is to check for underage drinkers and determine who has been drinking. Once that check is complete, parents start getting called.

When asked if Officer Bonadurer thinks there is a connection between parents and the underage drinking he responded, “It varies, in some cases the parents are aware that their child is drinking, and in other situations, they have no idea what was going on.”

Either way, the parents are called and requested to come pick their kid up and take them home. In the meantime, MICs, minor in consumption tickets, are filed for the underage drinkers.

One Wasilla High school student who asked to remain anonymous shared his experiences of drinking. The student typifies a classic underage drinker, male, and under 16 years old.

He admitted drinking alcohol at least once a week and has pushed his limits to the point of puking and blacking out. He didn’t feel that his drinking caused him to make more decisions that he wouldn’t normally make sober. He also said he has never been behind the wheel of a car drunk, but he is not 16 years old. He admitted that he would drink too much “on occasion, but I normally pace myself.” The student said he hid his drinking from his mom and had his first beer in eighth grade.

This kind of underage drinking leads to alcoholism and can cause serious problems in someone’s life. With the focus often on heavier drug use such as meth or heroin, underage drinking can often go unnoticed and untreated. However, the NIAA reports that those who drink underage have a higher chance of becoming an alcoholic when they grow up, as much as 40 percent more likely.

There are many programs and help lines that can assist you in stopping your habits. Some of which are NIAAA, www.thecoolspot.gov, 1-888-498-6707, or talk to a trusted adult.

 

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