Kids:Do You Know a Friend Who is Drinking Alcohol?

Do you know a friend who drinks? No, I'm not talking about milk and cookies, though I wish I were. Instead, I'm talking about something else--alcohol. According to the CDC, kids 12-20 years of age drink 11 percent of all alcohol in the U.S. and more than 8.7 million admit to heavy drinking. So the odds are that you have a friend that is drinking this instead of milk and cookies.

It's easy to see where you might think alcohol can make the party, the dance, or just life in general more fun. You see advertisements for it everywhere. But, alcohol is a drug! It impairs your brain, and actually slows down the amount of time it takes for you to process your thoughts. It can affect your balance, your speech, and the way you react to a dangerous situation. So why do kids drink?

Some kids turn to alcohol for the same reasons they turn to drugs--stress, loneliness, low self-esteem, and even abuse. Others turn to alcohol because of peer pressure. And, still others drink just because it's easier to get than drugs. Whatever the reason, alcohol is not the answer. But how do you know if one of your friends is using alcohol? Here are four ways to tell:

  1. Do they offer to share? Have they ever said, "Want a drink?"
  2. Do they smell like alcohol? Since alcohol is not completely metabolized by the body, a person's breath can have a sour alcohol smell and so can their body.
  3. Have you noticed a definite change in their mood? Are they easily angered, more irritable, or have little or no interest in the games you used to play?
  4. Do they slur their words, or lose their train of thought? 
If you notice this in one or more of your friends, learn all you can about drinking first then ask them if they are drinking. Let them know you want to help, and that you will support them if they are willing to get help. For yourself, talk to a trusted friend or parent. If you are going to support a friend who needs help in saying no to alcohol, you are going to need support and help too. There are many groups throughout the U.S. who reach out to teens. 

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