TOTAL TRAIN WRECK
We get serious about underage drinking.
“IT’S IMPORTANT TO DELAY AND DEFER THE TAKE- UP OF ALCOHOL UNTIL YOU ARE OVER 18.” DID YOU KNOW… IT CAN TAKE MORE THAN 18 HOURS FOR YOUR BLOOD ALCOHOL LEVEL TO RETURN TO ZERO?*
You wake up in your bed without any recollection of how you got there. Your head aches with an excruciating pain you’ve never felt in your life. The dress you’d bought with your birthday money is in a heap on the floor with a foul-looking stain on it. Your blood runs cold when you think about your parents. Did they see you when you were drunk? How did you even get home? You pick up your phone to text your bestie and find old messages from friends asking where you are. Then your stomach turns as you remember… Snapchat! You tap your way through a bunch of stories and see the embarro things that you did last night… with everyone watching. And the worst part? You’ve got to face everyone at school on Monday gossiping about how drunk you were. Does this sound like your worst nightmare? Well, forget the massive wave of humiliation – there are some scary facts about alcohol that will make you think twice before picking up a drink again.
Like acne, period pain and boy band obsessions, going to parties is a teenage rite of passage. When the weekend rolls around and you hit up a house party with your squad, you probably find half the crowd has a red cup of alcohol in hand. You may be tempted to join in and think, Everyone else is drinking, it’s no biggie. But actually, the decision to get amongst could have massive repercussions. While you may think you know your limits with alcohol; do you know the long-term damaging effects that it has on your body? “We have to be aware of the dangers,” warns Julie Rae from the Australian Drug Foundation (ADF). “The brain is still developing until you are 20, and we know from the evidence that the younger you start drinking, the higher the chances of habits or addiction occurring.” According to the Smart Generation project, a National Research Councilfunded initiative aiming to prevent adolescent harm from alcohol, drinking in your teen years can cause long-term brain damage. It affects the side of the brain that controls decision making and problem-solving, so alcohol consumption can be linked to poor school results. Equally worrying, alcohol use is also linked to risky sexual behaviours. “Alcohol is a poison,” Julie points out. “It’s important to delay and defer the take-up of alcohol until you are over 18.”
WHEN SMART GIRLS DO STUPID THINGS
The scariest part about alcohol is the way it makes people take crazy risks. Holly**, 17, saw this firsthand when her best friend almost ended not only their friendship but their lives, while under the dangerous influence of alcohol. “I had a friend who was stressed at school and wanted to drink to get out of the world she was in,” Holly recalls. “We were at a party and she got so drunk she climbed up to the roof of a five-storey building and I followed her. She started crying and I knew that if I didn’t do something, she would slip because she was half a metre from the edge and she was super drunk. “I had to pull her off, and we nearly slipped off the roof. That was probably one of the scariest things I’ve ever done! I didn’t talk to her for about a month and a half after that. She was stupid as hell that night.” While Holly’s story ended safely, not all teens have been as lucky. “Most deaths in young people are from serious injuries related to being drunk,” says Julie. “So it’s really important that you take on the responsibility and support your friend. Don’t just assume they are sleeping [if they pass out], make sure you ring an ambulance if you are concerned about anything.”
THE REALITY OF DRINK SPIKING
You may have read this article up until now and thought, Well, this doesn’t affect me. I don’t plan on drinking. But unfortunately, there are instances of alcohol being slipped into people’s drinks without them knowing. “It usually happens with a friend who thinks it’s a fun thing to spike your drink with alcohol without you knowing,” Julie informs us. “In fact, it is illegal and they can be charged.” It can put you in huge danger – according to the ADF, sexual assault is commonly linked with drink spiking. PROTECT YOURSELF FROM DRINK SPIKING 1. Don’t accept drinks from people who you do not trust. 2. Keep an eye on your drink at all times. 3. Buy bottled drinks so you know they have not been spiked. 4. Do not taste another person’s drink. 5. If your drink tastes funny, throw it out. If you want to talk to someone about alcohol, call Kids Helpline 1800 55 1800 or visit kidshelpline.com.au. D