By Shawna S.
Shawna received an Honorable Mention for this essay in the 2010 “Say It Straight Up” writing contest, age 18-25 division. Shawna is a student in Camarillo.
Alcohol is involved in 31% of teenage car accident fatalities. However, that doesn’t seem to stop kids from drinking and driving or getting in the car with someone under the influence. Teenagers have a false sense of invincibility that eventually leads to injury or death. But they can’t be held solely responsible. How are these underage teens getting a hold of alcohol and why isn’t anyone doing anything about it?
I am eighteen years old; three years shy of the legal drinking age. However, this doesn’t mean I haven’t drank before. But in this day in age, who hasn’t? Underage drinking is dangerously on the rise. It’s just getting easier for teenagers to obtain. Parents or family members are buying it or minors are buying it illegally. It is even possible that it is being stolen. But if people chose to be naive, then they are being an accessory in these kids’ antics. If you have a liquor cabinet at home, you should lock it. But mostly, never leave excess alcohol laying around in the refrigerator or anywhere else.
When it comes to drinking, the media also sends messages that most people might not want in their home. But the media is unavoidable; billboards are on almost every corner and magazines cover the walls of stores. Even the music we listen to influence the decisions we make about drinking. Songs such as “Crack a Bottle”, “Gin & Juice”, and even older music like “Tequila Sunrise.” We have it so that alcohol is illegal for people under the age twenty one, yet this industry is mainly marketed toward young adults. It’s a double standard which is a contradiction for what we fight for. We allow these things to be told to our friends, siblings, even our children but it’s not an appropriate message.
I think that we turn a blind eye to alcohol when it comes to prevention. Most people don’t consider alcohol a drug, when it truly is. The younger you are when you start drinking, the higher your chances are of becoming an alcoholic when you’re older. But I think this world is so focused on illegal drugs such as marijuana, that is extremely popular among teenagers, they forget about the drug that is a legal house drug. The drug that parents can buy and have in their homes and is all too easy to get a hold of. Alcohol hides in the shadows behind street drugs, but is just as deadly. Just last year a few kids in my school got in a car accident because they were drinking and driving. Only one survived the accident and he was supposed to be paralyzed for the rest of his life. We will never know what those kids were thinking that night but what we do know is that none of those boys were of drinking age. Yet, they got a hold of it and went on a drive which for two of them would be their last.
Its accidents like this that shakes a community, it hurts people to their core and put flowers at the place they fell. However, the messages that could have encouraged these boys most of their short lives still play on. No one stops to question these things because they can’t be stopped. We are so far gone now, caught up in the American dream. But what if that’s what’s killing us?