Beer & Booze = Bad News

By Valerie Taisey
Westgate CVI
Thunder Bay, ON

I know that you all know what I'm talking about when I say that government efforts don't really do much when it comes to making alcohol inaccessible to minors. We all have that certain friend who is always willing to pick up a case or a bottle for you.


The temptation to drink is always there, straight from when we were children, seeing our parents and family members getting hammered and having a great time. We don't see the after effects, at that age we see fun. Not to mention that television does not help either, with all those beautiful people acting sophisticated and mature and having a good time. It's no wonder so many people start drinking at such a young age. Because alcohol is a legal substance for adults, lots of young people assume that it is safe for them to drink, too. It's not. In fact, half of all teenagers who die every year die as a direct result of alcohol or drug abuse--mostly in accidents. But we all want to be adults, and that includes drinking adult beverages. The only problem is that most people don't have the maturity to drink at a young age. A lot of adults don't even have the maturity to drink, so why do we think that we do?

By the time a person has reached highschool, he or she has most likely heard or seen more advertisements for beer and wine coolers than for any other product. It is no wonder that more than 50% of ninth graders report having drunk alcohol. By the time they've reached 12th grade, almost 90% report they have drunk alcohol even though it's illegal for them to buy it in every province.

Teens drink for many reasons. They drink to be accepted by their peers or to assert their independence. They drink because alcohol may make them feel better if they are depressed or lonely, and they may drink because there simply isn't anything else to do. Unfortunately, the price is high. Teenagers who drink are more likely to get in trouble with the law and with school authorities. They lose out on chances to learn and gain valuable skills. They risk injuring themselves and others. They alienate themselves from friends and family. They risk doing irresponsible things while drunk--like having unprotected sex and risking getting pregnant or becoming infected with HIV, the virus that causes AIDS.

Alcohol may mess up your thinking, and may make it hard to maintain social relationships with friends. Good friends respect your right to be YOU. True friends won't make you drink if you don't want to.

Remember that it is illegal to buy or consume alcohol if you are under 19 (unless your family offers it to you in your own home). And it is illegal for your parents to allow your friends to drink in their home. Many teens have concerns about alcohol use in the home. In fact, one of every eight teens is a child of an alcoholic.

If you are concerned about your use of alcohol, or its use by a friend or relative, lots of help is available. Your school may have a student assistance coordinator or there may be a coach, teacher, or clergy person available. Your health care provider will always be able to provide information and guidance.