Did you know that more Americans have died in alcohol-related traffic crashes than in all of the wars involving the United States? It’s an epidemic and one that unfortunately starts at a young age. Now is the time to “nip the bud” of alcohol related accidents by showing our young people alternative routes. With Graduation Night approaching, a few parents out there may be worried about whether their child will be drinking and driving. Even if you know your child will not drink, are you positive they may not get into a car with someone who has? Before Graduation Night this year, we at the Seymour Herald thought we would share some information about alcohol, drinking and driving with our readers. A copy of this paper will be given to each graduating senior in the Seymour area. The following information was provided by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD).

Myths About Alcohol For Teens
It’s time to blast some of the most wacked-out lies about alcohol. You’ve probably heard them all. So, why waste our time trying to de-bunk a bunch of harmless myths? Because they can be pretty fierce.
You may want to say no to your friends, but it’s tough. And all these myths are just out there. You have heard all kinds of stuff, but this is the real story. And the next time some loser tries these lines on you, you’ll know your stuff.

Myth: Alcohol gives you energy.
Nope. It’s a depressant. It slows down your ability to think, speak, move and all that other silly stuff you like to do.

Myth: Switching between beer, wine and liquor will make you more drunk than sticking to one type of alcohol.
Whatever! Your blood alcohol content (BAC – the percent of alcohol in your blood) is what determines how drunk you are. Not the flavors you selected. Alcohol is alcohol.

Myth: You’ll get drunk a lot quicker with hard liquor than with a beer or wine cooler.
Did we mention that alcohol is alcohol?

Myth: Everybody reacts the same to alcohol.
Not hardly. There are dozens of factors that affect reactions to alcohol – body weight, time of day, how you feel mentally, body chemistry, your expectations, and the list goes on and on.

Myth: A cold shower or a cup of coffee will sober someone up.
Not on your life. Nothing sobers you up but time. With coffee, you’re simply a wide-awake drunk!

Myth: It’s just beer. It can’t permanently damage you.
Large amounts of alcohol can do major damage to your digestive system. You can hurt your heart, liver, stomach, and several other critical organs as well as losing years from your life.

Myth: It’s none of my business if a friend is drinking too much.
If you are a real friend, it is your business. You can’t make someone change but you can be honest. Maybe they’ll listen. You might even talk them into getting help.

Myth: The worst thing that can happen is a raging hangover.
Sorry. If you drink enough alcohol, fast enough, you can get an amount in your body that can kill you in only a few hours.

Myth: Drugs are a bigger problem than alcohol.
Alcohol and tobacco kill more than 50 times the number of people killed by cocaine, heroin, and every other illegal drug combined. Ten million Americans are addicted to alcohol. It is a drug.

You are trying to be an individual, your own person. You’re totally psyched one minute and in major trauma the next. It’s definitely a tough time. Your parents want to protect you. Your friends want to influence you. You’re still trying to decide what YOU want.
So many choices! And to top it off, there’s all this pressure about alcohol. Sure, giving in to pressure is easier than taking a stand. This is the first time in your life that you get to make your own decisions, and be your own woman. And what’s the first choice so many girls make? To fit in with the crowd.
Somewhere between the brain, heart and mouth, a girl’s individuality gets lost. Maybe it’s swallowed with that first sip of beer. Be an individual. You don’t need alcohol to be amazing.

Popularity puzzle
It may look like you have to drink to be popular, but think about it. Drinking gives you bad breath, makes your face puffy and your stomach bloated and gives you zits. How’s that going to get you a date or make people like you? Not only that, alcohol is loaded with empty calories.

Body stuff
Alcohol can seriously mess with your body. Too much alcohol can cause stomach ulcers. Girls can drink less than guys, over less time, and get more serious damage to their internal organs. Girls feel alcohol’s effects differently from day to day because of their menstrual cycle.

Maybe you’re shy and think alcohol will make you cool. Or think a good time means drinking. But alcohol robs you of your ability to think or react. When you can’t think clearly.

The Truth About Being a Teenage Guy
It doesn’t matter where you live or how much money you have. Or even what color your skin is. Every guy goes through the same teenage junk. Technology may change the world but for some things time stands still. This may blow your mind, but your dad (and even his dad before him) had to wade through the same sewer to get to manhood.
You’ve got to act like a man. You’ve got to grow up. Make the right choices, whatever those are. Whatever you do, make sure all the girls think you’re a stud. Make sure all the guys respect you. Not much to do. And in your spare time could you graduate from high school?
Alcohol is just one more thing. But here’s your chance to be a man. Don’t bother with alcohol. Take a stand. You’ll be surprised what independence can do for your image. Very cool.

Hanging out with the guys
You want to chill with your friends. Chance are alcohol is going to be around at some point. Maybe at every point. Sure, it’s easier to take a beer than a stand. But there’s a lot riding on that drink. If they are real friends, they’ll be cool with your choice.

You may want to loosen up. But alcohol is NOT liquid courage. You could end up making a fool of yourself and doing something you’ll regret. You’re eyesight’s blurry. Your judgment is blurry too. Drinking doesn’t turn you into a stud. Be yourself. If the girls don’t respond, it’s their loss.

Power Play
You want to be in control. But when you wake up in a strange place and don’t remember how you got there, you’re definitely not in control. Alcohol robs you of your ability to think. You don’t know what you’re doing. You could wind up in a car crash or worse.
Buff Bod
You’re looking good now. But alcohol can do major damage to your body. We’re talking stomach problems, memory loss and liver damage to name a few. That’s not even mentioning all the empty, gut-causing calories in alcohol. Ever heard of a beer belly? Not attractive!

Stressing BIG time
It’s tough being your age. There’s serious pressure to do the right thing. But it’s your chance to be your own man. You feel good about yourself and people will think you’re okay. Don’t be pressured into drinking. It doesn’t solve your problems. It doesn’t even postpone them. Drinking just makes new problems. Duh! Like that’s what you need.

State-By-State Traffic Fatalities – 2000
#1 in the states is Alaska with 103 traffic deaths, 53 alcohol related deaths in 2000. 51.9% were alcohol related.
Last place is Utah 373 deaths with 89 alcohol related deaths or 24%
Tennessee had 1,306 deaths, 511 alcohol related deaths or 39.1% with thirty states with higher percentages.

Other information provided by Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
Did you know…
• In 1999, 63 percent of youth (age 15-20) who died in passenger vehicle crashes were not wearing safety belts. (NHTSA, NCSA 1999)
• Fatally injured drivers who have been drinking are least likely to have been wearing safety belts. (NHTSA, 1999)
• According to Monitoring the Future, a survey conducted by the University of Michigan, 31 percent of 12th-graders reported binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row) in the two weeks prior to the survey; 51 percent reported consuming alcohol. (Univ. of Michigan National Survey, 1999)
• Poor grades are correlated with increased use of alcohol. Alcohol is implicated in more than 40% of all academic problems and 28% of all dropouts. (Anderson, 1992)
• Alcohol kills 6.5 times more youth than all other illicit drugs combined. (Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation, Ted Miller, Ph.D.)
• Alcohol is a factor in 3 leading causes of death for 15 to 24-year-olds. (The Marin Institute, 1998)
• Alcohol use is the number one drug problem among young people. (CSAP, 1996)
• Alcohol-related traffic deaths among youth between the ages of 15 and 20 increased from 2,219 in 1998 to 2,238 in 1999. (NHTSA, NCSA 1999)
• Advertisers spend more than $1 billion each year on alcohol advertisements.
• Youth arrests (for under 18) increased significantly from 1984 to 1993 for drunkenness (42.9%); DUI (50.2%) and drug abuse (27.8%). (FBI, 1994)
• Traffic crashes are the major cause of death for children in the age group 0-14. Almost one quarter (21.4%) of these deaths is alcohol related. (NHTSA, 1995)
• More than 35% of all 16-to-20 year-old deaths result from motor vehicle crashes.(NCHS, 1997) Estimates are that 2,125 (36.1%) persons aged 16-20 died in alcohol-related crashes in 1999. (NHTSA, NCSA 1999)
• Youth who drink alcohol are 7.5 times more likely to use any illicit drug, and 50 times more likely to use cocaine than young people who never drink alcohol. (CASA, 1994)
• Between 1989 and 1999, the proportion of drivers 16-to-20 years of age who were involved in fatal crashes, and were intoxicated, dropped 30 percent; 20% in 1989 to 14% in 1999-the largest decrease of any age group during this time period. (NHTSA, NCSA 1999)
• Of all persons arrested for DUI/DWI nationally in 1993, persons in the under 25 age group accounted for 23.4% of those in the cities, 23.7% of those in the suburban counties and 22.1% of those in the rural counties. (FBI, 1994)
• It is estimated that at least 2/3 of alcohol outlets sell to underage purchasers without asking for identification. (CDC, 1997)
• Underage drinking costs our society approximately $53,000,000,000 annually, including costs for traffic crashes, violent crime, suicide attempts and treatment. (PIRE)
• During a typical weekend, an average of one teenager (15-20) dies each hour in a car crash. More than forty- five percent of those crashes involved alcohol. (NHTSA, NCSA 1999)
• Younger people (age 16-20) are most likely, of any age group, to use various strategies, when hosting a social occasion where alcohol is served, to try to prevent their guests from drinking and driving. (NHTSA, 1996)
• It is estimated that minimum drinking age laws have saved 20,043 lives since 1975. (NHTSA/NCSA 2000)
• 2.6 million teenagers don’t know that a person can die from an alcohol overdose. (CSAP, 1996)

One of the victims:
Carla Rachelle Edwards Home City: Hayesville, NC
Age: 16 The Hayesville High School Volleyball team was returning home from a volleyball tournament. The school bus was carrying 9 players and two coaches. The bus was struck by a load of concrete vaults from an 18-wheeler. The assistant coach who was driving was struck and killed. Rachelle Edwards was sleeping behind the driver and was hit in the back of the head and killed instantly. The driver of the 18-wheeler was driving while intoxicated.
Parents Talk to your kids about drinking.
There is a slight family resemblance, but after spending the last several years with them, you’re convinced your child is not from our planet. Many parents at some point find themselves living with “alien” children. You may not understand their strange clothes, friends, language, or problems. But there is hope. They do belong here on Earth but we must first acquaint ourselves with their foreign ways.
Young people want to be adults. It is estimated that 6.9 million American junior and senior high students can walk into a store and buy their own alcohol. Talk about independence!
It’s your incredibly tough job to convince your child that alcohol is not an option. When parents “bargain” with youth, allowing them to drink as long as they promise not to drive, the youth are more likely to drive after drinking or be in a car with someone drinking.
One third of students surveyed said their parents often didn’t set clear rules regarding alcohol and other drugs. Half said they aren’t disciplined routinely when they break the rules.
It’s tough to sort through all the mixed messages that society promotes about alcohol. Your child deserves a clear, uncompromising message from you.
Here are a few suggestions that may make your job a little easier….
• Set a good example because they’re watching you. “Do as I say, not as I do” just doesn’t cut it with this group.
• Teach your child that actions have consequences at any age. Every choice matters. Talk to them about alcohol and everything else! The ages 9 to 11 are a good time to start. Give them encouragement and love as they grow.
• Set reasonable but firm rules that you plan to enforce. Explain the facts about alcohol as well as your family’s opinions. Make it clear that alcohol is not an option until your child is 21. Discipline, curfews, and structure are non-negotiable but they should be understood.
• Teach your children about true friendship. When peer pressure hits, they’ll be able to stand up to their friends. Get to know their friends and their friends’ parents.
• Let them know you see what’s going on. Tell them you know what happens among teenagers, maybe even their friends and discuss why your child shouldn’t participate in these activities. Point out the dangers and consequences of alcohol.
• Don’t be naive. Watch for signs of abuse like dropping grades, switching friends, missing money, and withdrawal to name a few. If you sense a problem, seek help. It could save their life.
• Parents should make a pact with teenagers to provide a safe ride if needed, no questions asked.
You can do it. We know that your child can grow up to reside happily on this planet. It just takes patience, love, understanding, determination, and discipline. It’s going to be crazy so buckle up for the ride of your life. Young people do grow up. One day, you may even understand their language and appreciate their clothes. Stranger things have happened.
Contrary to what you may hear or see, most teens aren’t drinking. 81% of adolescents age 12 to 17 have chosen NOT to drink in the past year. (SAMHSA, 1999). Most kids are really pretty smart!

To the Graduating Seniors – Have a fun and safe graduation evening and a wonderful life!

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