The Inconvenient Truth About Teen Drinking

The Inconvenient Truth About Teen Drinking

As I write this, I think of my time spent at the University of Iowa's first weekend in 2014. I had ventured up the road to Iowa City from school, located in Mt. Pleasant, Iowa. I was going with some of my fellow football players to meet up with some friends and have a good time. Iowa City had just been named the number one party school in America, an award sought after by frats, sororities and bars; but not the likes of administration, faculty and parents. I met up with some of my high school friends and went to a party. It was a typical house party, girls whom I was attracted to, guys I had known for a long time. It was the type of event that when I walked in I knew more than my fair share of people. It would be a great night.

As I woke up the next day in my friends dorm room on his couch. I didn't think much of the night. I simply wanted a McDonalds breakfast to help cure the headache I had obtained from a night of partying. Now almost a year and a half later, after many experiences I have come to realize a few things. I was lucky. That night could have been a horrible night for me given where I was, I was intoxicated and that to say it plainly college is not that safe of a place.

The reason I reminisce over these events and consider the ridiculous amount of luck I have had when consuming alcohol, is due to an article I read on NPR about certain counties and cities across the nation making and amending laws about teen drinking and the hosting of parties where teens consume alcohol. Having gone to a large high school in an affluent suburb I understand the perils of teen drinking and drug abuse among teenagers. But I also understand how intense life outside of a suburb can be when it comes to the consumption of alcohol and the abuse of drugs. Now I drank in high school. I did not start until later in my high school career but I drank. My friends all drank, some of them smoked weed, some of them did ecstasy, I had even heard of some kids getting into Molly and cocaine. I was an athlete so I abstained from all that. But I did drink. Now as I finish my first semester of sophomore year up I'm incredibly happy I drank in high school.

I was not an alcoholic and do not consider myself one. I have great self control and never do I have the need to drink. The past year I did not drink or go out on New Years or July 4th, two of the biggest drinking holidays of the year, especially for my peer group. Self control is without a doubt a rare trait, but one that can only be learned from experience.

The current college social system is not built for self control. The massive amount of freedoms that one receives upon their move in date is enough to ruin lives and in some cases end them. Their are countless stories of freshman becoming too intoxicated and making terrible life altering decisions that lead to addiction, self harm, or responsibilities they simply are not ready for. However, the individuals that I was around during high school have not had these problems for the most part. There is no perfect system to raise kids as we have learned as a human race, but there are ways to prepare them for the real world.

As I read the article about teen drinking I thought to myself, "wow, this is rooted in such a good idea, but the execution is awful." The example used in the articles is of Ventura County, California. One of the most stringent counties in the country. One of the problems I have with this law is this: if you are over 21 you cannot purchase alcohol for anyone under the age of 21. Now this is California, the Wild West of marijuana and other drugs. If this law is enacted and executed at a high level of success, the government will only force the teenagers of the town into drugs instead of alcohol. It is unfortunately an undeniable truth or the teenage persuasion. When you are told not to do something you either do it until you are in trouble because of it or you find something new and equally as bad that the authority figures have not caught on to yet. These laws will more than certainly have an effect on the youth of these communities outside of their neighborhoods and towns.

The freedom I had discussed earlier will be the root for the unraveling of these kids from communities with tight teen drinking laws. What happens when a girl who was never able to drink alcohol ends up at a big state school that first weekend and drinks well beyond her means because she has never drank before and she gets raped? She now has an STD or a child as well as a lifetime of pain of not knowing who her assaulter was. Or how about the young man who becomes belligerently drunk and says the wrong thing to the wrong person because he too has never been that intoxicated and now he's injured and unconscious; possibly even dead.

The issue with these laws is that they may work for your county or your suburb but they have absolutely no bearing at a college or university. Because they have no merit at these places they are only putting your children in harms way at the end of it all. Is it responsible for parents to give their children, who's minds are still developing alcohol? Quite frankly not at all. However would you rather your child drink in high school and understand what the ramifications of their actions can be instead of losing them to a mistake that could have been avoided?

As adults we need to see farther than the rankings of our town. No matter where you live, the best place to raise a child is in your home. Make sure you raise your children for the way the world is and not how you wish it was. Prepare them for the undeniable truths but teach them to make the changes that are needed in the world. Teach them their limits and make sure they understand driving drunk is not acceptable. As there is nothing worse than burying a child.