One important thing to remember about alcohol is that it is a drug, and people get addicted to it. It's known as alcoholism and people who suffer from it are called alcoholics. The truth is, alcoholism is a disease, and it can be very, very hard for alcoholics to stop drinking.
So why do people start drinking to begin with? Good question! Here are some reasons -- actually, they're more like excuses -- why a person might get into the habit of drinking too much alcohol.
Excuse: "Drinking helps me deal with my problems."
Truth: Many people drink too much in order to escape from their lives, forget their troubles, or "drown their sorrows." And since alcohol makes the brain and memory go fuzzy, some people actually forget what's troubling them, at least for a night. But when the person wakes up, all the troubles are still there. Alcohol never, ever fixes what is wrong with somebody's life. In fact, it almost always makes things worse, because alcoholism is just one more problem to add to whatever else is going on.
Excuse: "Drinking helps me have a good time."
Truth: For people who feel like they're too stressed out, shy, or nervous to have a good time in a social situation, alcohol can seem like the answer. But there is a big difference between having a drink or two to relax, and drinking so much over the course of several hours that you lose control. Many people who say they drink to "loosen up" or have a good time end up so drunk that they don't even remember what they did!
Excuse: "Drinking makes me high and happy."
Truth: Drinking can give you a "buzz" when the alcohol first hits your system, but it does not make you high or happy. In fact, because alcohol is a depressant, it's likely to make you feel drowsy and down.
Excuse: "Drinking is cool."
Truth: This is one of the biggest lies about alcohol. The truth is that, while the image of a "drinker" might seem cool to some people, drinking too much can make you do things that are totally uncool…like having slurred speech, being clumsy, saying things you don't mean, and maybe even throwing up.
Excuse: "Drinking keeps me warm when it's cold out."
Truth: Alcohol might feel warm going down but it actually makes staying warm more difficult, because it sends blood to your skin, making you lose body heat to the cold air. So drinking actually makes your body colder, not warmer!
Excuse: "I can't have a drinking problem, because I only drink beer and wine, not hard liquor."
Truth: Beer, wine, and liquor all contain the exact same drug: alcohol! Drinking 5 beers is exactly the same as drinking 5 glasses of wine, and these are exactly the same as drinking 5 shots of liquor.
Excuse: "I only drink because all my friends drink too."
Truth: This is a tough one, because everyone feels peer pressure. If you are tempted to drink because your friends expect you to, or you're trying to show them you're cool, it's time to look a little closer at the situation. What would happen if you told them you weren't interested in drinking? Would they drop you as a friend or not want to hang out with you anymore? And if they did that, were they really true friends in the first place? A real friend will respect your decisions.
So, how do you handle Peer Pressure to try alcohol?