Thinking about drinking?

Image: Thinking about drinking?

Millions of teens drink alcohol. So are there good reasons why you shouldn't join them?

More than 10 million students, ages 12 to 20, in the US report they have consumed alcohol within the past 30 days. Of all the abused substances in our society, alcohol is the only one that is both legal and readily available in almost every convenience store or supermarket. When you consider the ease with which alcohol can be obtained and the potential for abuse, it is important to understand the dangers of alcohol and what it can do to you.

The question we have to ask then is why do underage people drink?

Some reasons why teens drink

1. Stress: People often believe alcohol will be able to help them de-stress, or provide some therapy for a stressful day. However, just the opposite is true, Alcohol is a central nervous system depressant, and when it reaches the brain it has a depressant effect.  As the alcohol is absorbed, the drinker can experience:

  • Depression
  • Loss of sensation
  • Decrease in sharpness of vision
  • Decrease in hearing
  • Loss of balance and muscle coordination
  • Decreased pulse rate and blood pressure (which with excessive drinking can lead to a loss of consciousness, a coma or even death).

2. Social Acceptance: Students sometimes find themselves in situations where alcohol is present and when it is offered to them they feel unprepared to answer. In a matter of seconds they try and process the ramifications of each answer:

  • “What if I get caught drinking?”
  • “What if I say no?”
  • “Is it wrong to just have one?”

3. Avoidance of awkward situations: Alcohol can provide you with a way out of an unwanted conversation, a distraction to a lull in the conversation or just something to do to avoid being alone and standing by yourself.

The bottom line is that students begin using alcohol as a crutch because they have not thought out the consequences of drinking or believe that they are above the law or they will not get caught. This idea is known as the “invincibility fable”. Adolescents believe they are invincible and can not be hurt, caught or punished. Teens believe they are not susceptible to the dangers, which affect everyone else. For example, young people who can recite the statistics about alcohol and fatal automobile accidents may still drink and drive because they believe it can't happen to them.

Some reasons why teens shouldn't drink

1. It's illegal if you're under age

Countries have different rules and age limits on when you are allowed to drink alcohol. Often times, teens will say “Well you only have to be 16 in Italy, so why can’t you here?”

Regardless, we are subject to the rules of the land we live in - not some other country!

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. (Romans 13:1-2)

The reason countries have age limits on drinking is because teenagers are still in the formidable learning stage and can tend to be very irresponsible when they drink. There are also a number of negative effects that alcohol can have on young bodies & brains, causing problems that could last a lifetime (see below). 

2. It's unhealthy, particularly for young bodies & brains

When a person drinks, the alcohol is absorbed through the stomach and small intestine and enters the bloodstream. The higher the percentage of alcohol in a drink, the faster the absorption takes place. The alcohol in the bloodstream is not actually metabolized until it reaches the liver.  As the blood goes through the lungs, some of the alcohol will be expelled through the lungs. This is why a breathalyzer can measure a person’s intoxication level.  

When the alcohol in the bloodstream enters the liver, the liver breaks down the alcohol into energy, carbon dioxide and water. The carbon dioxide is released from the body in the lungs. The water passes out of the body as breath vapor, perspiration, or urine. Alcohol prevents the release of body chemicals that regulate how much urine the kidneys make. The kidneys produce more urine than usual, and the drinker loses more water than usual, causing the drinker to become very thirsty. In extreme cases, a drinker may become seriously dehydrated— a condition where the amount of water in the body has dropped below the level needed for normal body function.

Our brains have a filter system that normally allows only water to pass through. However, alcohol is very water soluble and it passes into the brain and can produce many harmful effects. Depending on the amount of alcohol and numerous other individual factors, the alcohol affects each of our brains in different ways.  For many teens, it can provide an illusion of freedom, heightened sexuality, and less of a filter in regards to words and actions. For others there is a lessening of motor skills and balance, slowed reaction times and even the “shakes”. Still others experience blurred vision. Others just get tired and go to sleep. While the noticeable effects may be different for each of us, alcohol can have a harmful effect on our brains, which can in turn affect our relationships with others.

3. You can get punished, which is not much fun 

Some students will choose to abstain from alcohol for fear of getting caught.

They do not want to be punished by their parents, schools, teams or the law. The fear of being punished is enough to deter them for a while. This will last students but only for a duration of time. An athlete who chooses not to drink because they do not want to be kicked off the team will usually eventually succumb to the pressure of underage drinking because their reasoning was only for a period of time.

Thinking about drinking 

We need to have a set of beliefs that will not change with our situation and this comes from the Bible. The question you have to ask yourself is - who will you allow to set your standards for you?

Your peers may tell you that under-age drinking is not wrong, your Bible-knowing friends may even tell you “Well, Jesus drank wine”.

Romans 13 tells us that we are to be obedient to the laws that are in front of us. It is important to remember that we are called to be Christ-like, Jesus lived a sinless life and while we can not be sinless, we should not try to sin.

"So, whether you eat or drink, do all things for the glory of God" (1 Corinthians 10:31). This verse in Corinthians should be your basis for making decisions.

Ask yourself “am I glorifying God with the choice I am about to make?”

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