Friday, April 20, 2012

Is drinking the norm?

I’m sitting in a room full of my best friends. We’re having a good time skipping out on our homecoming. My friend’s mom comes down stairs to tell us they are off to their party and they’ll be home late. We start talking and laughing again. When my friends hear the car leave, they start to pull out the drinks. I’m not talking about Pepsi or Mountain Dew. I’m talking about rum, vodka and coolers. I’m faced with an issue of deciding if this is something I actually want to do. I don’t want to drink because I’m afraid of drinking too much, but I’m also afraid of looking like a loser with my best friends.
Growing up we’re always told to say away from drugs. You always think as a kid, "I’ll never do drugs!"As you grow into a teenager its fairly easy to say no to drugs because you grew up knowing they were harmful to you.  
It’s more difficult to say no to alcohol.   
When talking to a friend about it, she told me,“most of my friends drink. They can drink because either their parents have a surplus of beer or let them drink. Also, some of them have older siblings who will buy them alcoholic drinks because they are older than 21." Alcohol is a part of our society. Everywhere you turn it seems that drinking is portrayed as the norm. We see it advertised in commercials on television, in magazines, and on billboards. We hear it glamorized in popular songs and in mainstream movies. As we grow up we see our families drinking maybe very occasionally or possibly every day. What are we supposed to think about all of these messages?
For some teens, alcohol is more of a social thing, something they do at parties or with friends, while for others it serves as an escape from what is going on in their lives. We are fed all of these ideas about drinking and how everyone is doing it. However, we don't often get to see what happens when drinking makes the transition from being fun or casual to being addictive and all-consuming. Many people don’t realize that there is a problem with drinking until something terrible happens or until it isn't a matter or wanting it, but rather, needing it. Another thing they don't show us is that being an alcoholic is not just something adults struggle with. Their is a myth in our culture that high schoolers and college students aren't really be alcoholics. You know the saying, "live it up while you can, because after college it is called alcoholism." This feeds into the idea that people our age don't have problems with alcohol and that we shouldn't worry about it until later.
The truth is that alcoholism is not reserved for adults.
Many teens struggle with an addiction to alcohol. Those who recognize that they have a problem and want to seek help often do not know where to go to get the support or resources they need to recover. A lot of times they may just need someone to talk to who isn't going to judge them for what they are going through and who will actually listen. For anyone who is upset about something in their life or for anyone who is struggling with a drug or alcohol addiction, there are people who care and resources that can help.

Teen Link is one of those resources. Teen Link is a help line answered by teens. It is available to provide a space where teens can talk about whatever is going on for them and to have someone really listen to them and help the find the resources and support they are looking for. The teens who answer the phones go through lots of training to be able to talk to you about anything that you might want to talk about. We like to say that there is no problem too big or too small. Teen Link is open from 6 pm to 10pm every night and there is an online chat service available on Monday, Tuesday and Thursday. Teen Link also partners with the  Washington Recovery Help Line to provide support and resources for teens around the issue of drugs and alcohol. If you or someone you know ever needs to talk Teen Link is a great resource.
866TEENLINK (866-833-65465) or

Other Resources Around Drugs and Alcohol:
Recovery Help Line              866-789-1511
Alateen & Alanon                 206-625-0000
Alcoholics Anonymous        206-587-28-38
Narcotics Anonymous          206-790-8888

No comments:

Post a Comment