Under-Aged Drinking Study Revisited As Spring Break Draws Nearer

As much of the country is seeing the snow melt and the grass turn greener, hundreds of thousands of America’s “young adults” are gearing up for their annual trip with friends to a warm place by the water. That’s right, it’s spring break.
Spring break is considered by many to be a rite of passage for high school and college students. Tourist spots such as South Padres Island, TX, Panama City, FL, the Bahamas and Cancun, Mexico all have several things in common such as warm sunny beaches and of course, a steady flow of alcohol. Along with the alcohol comes lowered inhibitions and bad decision-making, which often leads to driving under the influence, violence, promiscuity, and sometimes death.
Alcoholic beverage companies capitalize on this time of year and promote the dangerous behavior by sponsoring events at the spring break hot spots, where excessive drinking and lewd behavior is highly promoted. The industry is well aware of the fact that our nation’s young people are a big market for alcohol consumption, which was verified by a recent study from Columbia University’s National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (www.casacolumbia.org). This study sited that underage drinking in America amounted to nearly 20% of the total amount consumed (1999), equaling more than $22 billion in sales.
Another result of the advertising and consumption of alcoholic beverages affects millions each year, addiction. Whether a person starts using other drugs while under the influence or becomes addicted to the alcohol itself, most young people headed down that path are wholly unaware, as their perceptions are certainly impaired a great deal.
‘Aaron’, a 25 year-old male from Georgia, claims he threw away a college degree, a shot at playing major league baseball, many friendships and six years of his life because of alcohol. “It really all started going to spring break with a group of my friends in high school,” says ‘Aaron,’ who has now been sober for about 3 years, “Everything else in my life ended up taking a back seat to drinking and partying and I had no concept of the harm I was doing to myself and others.” He was fortunate enough to still stop at an early age by going through the Narconon® drug and alcohol rehabilitation program, which is based on methods developed by L. Ron Hubbard and is one of the nation’s most successful programs.
Most young adults that end up in a situation like ‘Aaron’ aren’t as lucky, and if they are able to reverse that downward spiral of addiction it can sometimes take decades. Many individuals go on to taking more physically addictive drugs such as cocaine, methamphetamine, ecstasy or heroin.
With the billions of dollars produced by under-age drinking, it isn’t likely that there will be an ethical decision made by alcoholic beverage companies to decrease advertising unless enforced. In order to actually create a decline the in the percentage of any substance abuse statistics, effective programs are needed in all areas, including reduced media glamorization, more prevention and education, smart law enforcement and true rehabilitation. Support for such actions must come from the bottom as well as the top, for that is the only way to truly bring about a change.

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