Teens and alcohol: be a kid, not a statistic
Psst! Hey kid!
Were going to be straight with you for a second. Dont tell your parents.
Heres the big secret. All that talk about not drinking you know, that its bad for you, that you should wait until you are an adult well, hey, the first drink wont kill you.
Its what follows that could.
And you wont even see it coming.
Tamara Wardles didnt commit suicide.
She didnt want to die.
She wanted to celebrate.
Tamara Wardles had a blood alcohol level of .31.
She was 14 years old.
In the aftermath of the Corvallis teens death, plenty of people are trying to pin the blame on movie stars, or alcohol manufacturers, or parents, or peer pressure, or society. Or its decline.
Sorry if it sounds cold, but if you choose to make adult decisions, you choose to deal with adult consequences.
If you drink and die, you are to blame.
That isnt to say our society conveys anything but conflicting messages to youth about alcohol.
Alcohol can be bought in a store and, unlike other store-bought products like drain cleaner that you know are hazardous, youve seen parents or other adults drink alcohol without consequence.
That separates it from cocaine, crack, heroin and other street drugs.
You know those could kill you.
Alcohol makes Uncle Bill funny. It makes the college kids home for Miners Jubilee seem cool.
Maybe it killed that one girl, but you can take it live life on the edge, show you are more grown up, more experienced, than those other kids in your class.
And shoot, that first drink feels good. Shouldnt you want more of a good thing?
OK. Drink. It really is your choice.
1. If you are under 21 and you are pulled over driving by police with even a trace of alcohol in your system, you will lose your license.
You will still be alive, though.
2. Alcohol loosens your inhibitions and diminishes your capacity to reason.
You could be taken advantage of sexually or take advantage of someone sexually. I hope we dont have to explain the potential outcomes of that scenario, but recapping quickly: pregnancy, STDs and possibly even a hefty prison sentence.
You are statistically more likely to commit or be the victim of non-sex crimes.
You will still be alive, though.
3. A kid who has never experimented with alcohol doesnt know any better, and he certainly doesnt know his limits. And when a kid gets drunk, then he really doesnt know, because he cant.
But it feels good, and it feels better as you have more.
And if you have enough and that amount varies from person to person your body will violently reject the contents of your stomach, leave you physically and mentally incapacitated while it purges the poison from your bloodstream, and punish you for hours or days afterwards.
If you are still alive.
Tamara Wardles didnt want to die at her birthday party. That much is safe to say.
Her parents didnt want her to die. The two adults who furnished alcohol for the party and now face charges of manslaughter didnt want her to die.
The choice to drink was hers, however, just as it is yours.
You can look at your teacher, the kids in anti-alcohol and other drug clubs at school, even this editorial and call us nerds, squares, prudes or losers.
Trust us, well have kinder words for you when you are dead.
Or you can take the path of moderation or, even better, abstinence from drinking.
Play sports. Go to a movie or dance with a boy or girl. Goof around. Spend time with friends or family. Get a part-time job and save for college.
Be a kid.
Become a young adult.
Not a statistic.
The choice is yours.