Alcohol IS an illegal drug for juveniles

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, February 18, 2004

Harold Keller – Get High on Life

Listening to the radio while driving last week, the talk show host spoke of the epidemic of binge drinking among college and high school students. During the short time he covered this serious issue, he shared an alarming statistic. He said that 75 percent of all reported date rapes were the result of alcohol consumption by the victim. Nothing to laugh about, but he did finish with what he thought was a little humor. “The next two weeks, we’ll see a lot of binge drinking,” he said jokingly, speaking of Mardi Gras.

Illegal drug use is a problem in every community, but alcohol is the drug choice for the majority of American teens. Alcohol is the most abused drug in America, yet we glamorize its use on television, accept it as a social must, and some parents even supply alcohol at house parties for their children’s so-called pleasure.

I’ve seen first hand what alcohol can do to wreck families and kill people. It’s reported that 40 percent of children who began drinking before the age of 13 will become alcoholics. If drinking is delayed until age 21, the problem with alcohol in their future will decrease by 70 percent.

In a recent survey, 68 percent of eighth-graders and 85 percent of 10th-graders said that alcohol was readily available to them at any time. Twenty percent of eighth- graders and 44 percent of 10th-graders have been drunk at least once. Approximately 12 percent of eighth- graders, 22 percent of 10th- graders and 29 percent of 12th graders report binge drinking (five drinks in a row).

When I speak to high school groups about drugs, my first question is: How many of you have used illegal drugs? Very few respond. My next question is: How many of you drink alcohol? Hands are raised, unashamed and with pride, knowing that drinking alcohol is an accepted practice. I then tell them that if they’re not 21, alcohol is an illegal drug.

Maybe I should have waited a couple of weeks to write this article. After all, it is Mardi Gras and the mentality that is prevalent during this season is: “Laissez les bon temps rouler” (let the good times roll), regardless of the consequences.

HAROLD KELLER writes this column as part of his affiliation with the Get High on Life religious motivational organization. Call 652-8477 or write to P.O. Drawer U, Reserve, LA 70084.