Teenage alcohol and tobacco abuse is one of the most predominant problems faced in America. Its devastating effects on the American youth has plagued America for over 50 years. Once considered an unharmful fad, alcohol and tobacco use has increased among the youth, and modern research has proved it to be a malignant tradition. Research shows that about 81% of high school students drink alcohol, 31% binge drink at least once a month, and 75% of smokers have started before the age of 18. These statistics are absurd, and they reveal how action must occur if America is to solve this crisis. Alcohol and tobacco use can cause devastating damage to not only the body but also the mind; they dramatically affect one’s lifestyle in a negative manner, so action needs to be taken to stop the spread of this epidemic.
Alcohol and tobacco can cause serious damage to the body, especially when the consumer is below the legal drinking/smoking age. Alcohol consumption seriously damages the liver, which can lead to liver cancer. It also rapidly changes blood glucose, causing hypoglycemia and hyperglycemia. Finally, alcohol raises blood pressure (causing heart attacks or strokes), leads to kidney disease, and can cause nervous disorders, in which balance and memory are impaired. Smoking tobacco can lead to heart disease, cancers of the mouth, throat, and lungs, and is detrimental to physical activity.
Tobacco also contains nicotine, which causes addiction to smoking, and it can cause headaches, dizzziness, and anxiety/depression. This addiction leads to increased abuse of tobacco by the consumers. All these disastrous effects occur when adults consume alcohol and tobacco; now imagine if the youth consumed these products. These symptoms would be likely to occur more rapidly because a youth’s body isn’t fully developed.
Alcohol and tobacco consumption not only causes health problems, but also serious psychological affects and complications in life. Alcohol and tobacco consumption can lead to high-risk sex, sexual assault, major and minor depression, and even suicide. One study showed that 37% of eighth grade females who drank heavily attempted suicide (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry).
Also, children who are drinking alcohol by seventh grade are more likely to abuse drugs and have academic problems than those who don’t (Blood Alcohol Information). This usually leads to trouble finding employment, criminal activity, and increased violence. As big of a problem as it is, alcohol and tobacco consumption isn’t a problem for all kids. In fact, it is largely based upon where one lives. Research has shown that kids in inner cities are more likely to consume alcohol and tobacco more often than kids living in rural areas. This is partly due to the availability of alcohol and tobacco in cities, and because poorer families often migrate to cities.
Every day, on average, 11,318 American youth try alcohol, and more than 6,000 American youth become smokers. These results lead to numerous alcohol/tobacco related deaths every year. To stop these trends from rising, the American people must take action to prevent the spread of alcohol and tobacco consumption. One major problem is easy access of these items to the youth; parents or family members often have such items, and therefore the youth can easily obtain them. In order to reduce this, parents must set an example for their kids and either quit or severely limit their drinking or smoking.
In addition, easy access to these toxic substances by youth must be reduced by storing these substances in less visible places or by simply securing alcohol and cigarettes in places wherre access is denied. Another major problem is advertising and exposure to alcohol and tobacco. At a very young age, people are seeing others drink or smoke in real life, or on television. When people consume alcohol or tobacco on television, it makes the youth think that those items are harmless and benefit your life. Also, advertisements often make alcohol and tobacco consumption look “cool,” and glamorize these substances which influences many youth. Advertisements need to be taken off the air for these products, and the drinking and smoking on television needs to be limited. Another method of reducing alcohol and tobacco consumption among the youth is raising alcohol and tobacco prices.
Many Americans continue to ignore this epidemic, thinking that it will not affect them or their kids. However, , if four- fifths of high school students drink, how likely is it that your kids and all their friends won’t become part of this statistic? People need to take action now to limit alcohol and tobacco consumption as much as possible. Among smokers aged 12-17 years old, 70% already regret their decision to smoke and 66% state that they want to quit (American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry).
Already, research has provided us with the numbers and statistics we need to prove that alcohol and tobacco consumption is detrimental to our lives; now all we need is more support. Schools have implemented new prevention programs, but that is not enough. What America needs is for the people to unite and fight this problem that has been ravaging the youth for years.
Works Cited: http://www.aacap.org