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What types of alcoholic drinking do you see people in your life taking part in? Do you feel like there's anyone who has a problem?

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Alcohol: When Tweens and Teens Drink
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Topics on Alcohol:
Thinking About Drinking
The Basics
Your Brain and Body
When Someone We
    Love Drinks
When Tweens and
    Teens Drink
Why People Drink
Peer Pressure
Your Questions
From the Mentors
It isn't just adults who have drinking problems. Teens, and even students in middle and elementary school, can get into trouble with alcohol. Movie star Drew Barrymore, in her book "Little Girl Lost," wrote about the misery of being an alcoholic before she turned 14! You may even have friends in school who have started experimenting with alcohol.

A friend might have a problem with alcohol (or other drugs) if he or she:

  • Doesn't want to be around old friends anymore
  • Is having lots of behavior problems
  • Is having trouble in school or missing lots of school
  • Is having trouble with anger or other emotions
  • Is depressed a lot
  • Talks about wanting to drink
  • Asks about where he or she could get some beer or alcohol
  • Thinks that he/she must have alcohol to have fun
  • Offers you a drink
  • Smells like alcohol
  • Is constantly popping mints to cover "alcohol breath"
  • Acts "buzzed" or groggy
  • Is having "hangovers"

What should you do if you think a friend is drinking? Try these steps:

  • Ask. Take the time to talk to your friend. Is she really drinking? Is she just thinking about it? Why? Does she know how dangerous it is? If she doesn't have the facts about what alcohol can do, ask her to read this IML topic.

  • Be honest. Tell your friend what you think about drinking. If you've chosen to stay away from alcohol, say this. She might just need a friend to let her know that it's okay not to drink.

  • Find help. Find out if your friend knows a reliable adult who he can talk to about drinking. If he doesn't, give him the number of AlaTeen, a group that helps kids and teens find help: 1-888-425-2666.

  • Do what's right. It's important to be loyal to your friends, but if a friend is drinking, she is in real trouble and could be in danger of being hurt. Alcohol is a drug, and drinking under the age of 21 is against the law. Your friend's safety is important, so you need to tell an adult what's going on.

When It's You
Are you drinking alcohol? Are you feeling tempted to? Here are some things that might help you stop:

Think about the law. It's against the law to drink if you are under 21. You could be arrested, and so could whoever bought or gave you the alcohol.

Think about your health. Drinking can seriously damage your brain and body, especially at this time when you're still growing.

Think about your life. Drinking can cause depression, anger, and violence, and make you do badly in school. It makes it harder, not easier, to deal with your problems. It even gives you bad breath!

Talk about it. If you're drinking, or thinking about it, find an adult you can talk to. If you don't think your parent would understand, or if you're afraid they will be too angry to listen, try a teacher or school counselor. Make sure you explain that you want help, and you're not sure where to find it.

Explore your reasons. Think about more than just the alcohol…think about WHY you might want to drink it. Is it because your friends are drinking? Because you think it's grown-up? You'll be more likely to stop drinking if you know why you want to start in the first place. And remember this:

Whatever reason you think you have to drink, there's a
much better reason to NOT drink: Because you want to be
happy and healthy!

Write about it. Keep a journal for your thoughts and emotions. Print out the IML Journal page: Alcohol and write down your thoughts about drinking.

Find other ways to deal with problems and stress. Play a sport. Write a story. Draw a picture. Write a song. Think about how you can turn your negative emotions into positive actions!

Next: Why People Drink

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