Thursday, November 30, 2017



When someone reaches a point in their life where they are compelled to take their first sip of alcohol, they are not thinking of the repercussions that could follow in the future.  All they are thinking about is how it makes them feel at that very moment. When a person is consuming alcohol, the health, mental, and family issues, that are linked to alcohol, does not register until it is oftentimes too late.

In regards to health, indulging in alcohol has detrimental affects on a person’s brain, heart, liver, and pancreas.   In addition, excessive drinking can even lead to some cancers.  According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, alcohol interferes with how a person’s brain functions. It alters the communication pathways causing a person’s mood to change, to not think clearly, and it increases a lack in coordination. As for the heart, alcohol causes issues like arrhythmias (irregular heartbeats), stroke, and high blood pressure.  Furthermore, excessive drinking can cause people to develop coronary heart disease. 

There are several other diseases associated with alcohol abuse.  Alcohol consumption can lead to alcoholic hepatitis, fibrosis, and cirrhosis of the liver.  Alcohol can cause the pancreas to produce toxic substances that can eventually lead to pancreatitis, a dangerous inflammation and swelling of the blood vessels in the pancreas that prevents proper digestion.  It increases the risk of developing mouth, esophagus, throat, liver, and breast cancer. 

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention states, “In a year, there are approximately 189,000 emergency room visits by persons under the age of 21 for injuries and conditions linked to alcohol.” To put that statistic into perspective, 189,000 children is equal to approximately 90 high schools.  Also, according to the CDC, “Excessive drinking is responsible for more than 4,300 deaths among underage youth each year.” 

If the health risks aren't enough reason to think before you drink, consider the toll alcohol abuse takes on family, friends and loved ones.  Alcohol becomes a priority, a craving, and an addiction.  For those who become addicted, everything else is minuscule compared to their alcohol.  An article called, “Is Alcoholism Grounds for Divorce?” claims, “Alcohol is one of the leading reasons people give for divorce in the United States.  Alcohol can diminish relationships to the point where they can no longer be salvaged.” 

Students at WHS have personally experienced the ravaging affects of this terrible disease. Miguel Dela Cruz, a senior at Washingtonville High School expressed, “Alcohol has affected my life in ways you wouldn’t imagine. My dad was a really big drinker, and it caused our family to tear and split up.  My family and I moved out of our country, the Philippines, and left my father there.  I don’t even talk to him anymore.”

Talking to teenagers about the affects and dangers of underage drinking is crucial.   Mrs. Connolly, who has a 14 year old daughter, expressed, “I have begun to have conversations with my daughter about the dangers of drinking. I’m not worried about her feeling the pressure to drink just yet. However, I am not blind to the fact that teenagers do drink.  My husband and I have developed a plan with her in case she is ever at a friend’s house and she finds herself in a situation where she is not comfortable.” 

If a family member or a friend is developing a drinking problem, there are ways to help fight their addiction.  An alcohol rehab center called Narconon, informs that in order to help  someone who is suffering, at first, give them the chance to change their lifestyle on their own; give them the power back that the alcohol stole from them.  The person should tell their loved one how they feel and how their actions are affecting them; they could give suggestions on how to diminish the situation. 

If that person doesn’t choose to revive their life on their own and their drinking is out of control, then it is time to go to a rehabilitation center to receive professional help.  There are programs like Alcoholics Anonymous that benefit the lives of people struggling with a drinking problem. 

End the cycle of underage drinking before it gets out of hand.  Put down the drink and think. 

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