By Jack Sinclair
I’ve been around alcohol for a long time. When I think about it, I guess I’ve actually been surrounded by alcohol for pretty much all of my childhood and most of my teenage years. My mom and dad were both drunks, my dad dried out and my mom eventually followed suit and quit drinking. Now I see Zoey indulging in alcohol and even though I’m not as close to her as I used to be, I’d have to be blind to miss the signs that she is drinking too much. The thing about alcohol abuse is that she doesn’t see she has a problem. She’s just feeling good and avoiding her problems. What Zoey doesn’t see yet is the damaging effects that alcohol is already having on her.
Alcohol is a drug. People sometimes forget this because it is a ‘legal’ drug (legal for people over a certain age that is). The effects of alcohol are long lasting and the fact that Zoe is drinking so much at such a young age makes her addiction even scarier. The first thing alcohol does to you is impair your judgement. When you drink, things are different and decision-making skills are seriously affected. Statistically, teenagers engage in more unprotected sex or other risky behaviours when they are drunk than they would if there were sober.
Beyond making really bad decisions, there are a lot of other negative effects of alcohol on the teenage brain. As teenagers are still developing (yes, even if you look like an adult, odds are the brain is still growing) alcohol intake can damage parts of the brain more than it would an adult; this can cause serious problems with memory. Because alcohol is absorbed directly into the blood stream, it can also increase your risk to developing serious diseases and risk causing organ failure. Another big risk when drinking too much, too fast is alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning causes the body to shut down and can result in coma or death.
Too much alcohol is just dangerous. It’s not fun when your friends are having a good time at a party and you’re passed out in the corner mumbling to yourself. I know Zoey has been taking it too far and now that she’s finally starting to admit she has a problem, I hope she can change. I think she wants to get better and they say that admitting you have a problem is the first step.
It’s not going to be easy for her. I’ve watched my dad and mom go through recovery and I’m willing to stand by Zoey too. That’s what friends are for after all.