Downing alcohol may be quite the thrill, but when you wake up and lose your boyfriend, your parents' trust, and your self-respect, you'll realize the rush wasn't worth it.
If after a night of heavy drinking, the extent of your morning-after syndrome is a splitting headache, chills, and an extreme bout of dizziness and nausea, count your blessing. It may not be that way for long. More and more young teenage girls are taking alcohol, getting wasted, and living to regret it.
Although the Philippines legislation has pegged 18 as the legal drinking age, this restriction is seldom implemented and much less, respected. Many clubs and bars readily serve up liquor to any hand that forks over the right denomination bill without so much as a glance. These nightspots, however, are not usually favorite drinking venues of teens. They prefer less conspicuous locations where liquor literally flows freely at parties or friend's homes.
Because alcoholic beverages produce that certain buzz or high, many mistakenly believe that alcohol is an upper. In truth, alcohol is a depressant or a downer that delays the response of your brain and the rest of your nervous system. So when the liquor gives you that sought-after buzz, it is also impairing your judgment something many teenage girls are learning the hard way.
When I was in third year, I went out with this guy. He wasn't really a friend and I didn't know him that well. We just met and started dating, Trina, 18, confides. One night, he took me to his cousin's birthday party. He kept on giving me drinks, lots of tequila shots, and a beer bong. I was so wasted! About the ride to the house, Trina has only what she calls flashes of memory. She remembers vividly, however, what happened outside her home that night. "We were kissing heavily and he forced me to do things I didn't want to do. I felt dirty and used. Had I been more sober, I probably wouldn't have done that. I was too weak to stop him. To this day, I haven't told anyone close to me. I'm afraid of what they might think or say."
Trina could have been one of many victims of sexual assault, rape, or date rape also known as acquaintance rape because of intoxication. Rape101.com, a website dedicated to educating women about preventing all forms of rape, says one warning sign that can help women identify acquaintance rapists is if he "tries to get you intoxicated." Jean O'Gorman Hughes, author of the web page, "Friends" Raping Friends—Could It Happen to You?, advises her readers to "be aware that alcohol and drugs are often related to acquaintance rape. They compromise your ability... to make responsible decisions." Hughes further shares that "many victims say later that they drank too much... to figure what was going on. By the time they realize their predicament, it was too late."
Like most adolescents, Trina engaged in the most dangerous kind of alcohol consumption—binge drinking, consuming five or more drinks in a row on a single occasion. This kind of drinking behavior is extremely self-destructive. Most teenagers fall victim because they have an inaccurate and unrealistic perception of the risks associated with alcohol; they believe that they can handle it or that a few drinks won't hurt them.
Medical research says three drunks are enough to cause the loss of motor coordination in the drinker; five drinks bring about major impairment of mental and physical control, and fourteen drinks can bring the drinker to the threshold of a coma. The Center for Disease Control (CDC) reports that the "use of alcohol and other drugs is associated with leading causes of death and injury (e.g. motor vehicle crashes, homicides and suicides) among teenagers and young adults." It has also been found that drinking at an early age is closely related to future alcohol abuse.
Teens think that they are the only ones affected by their drinking. What they don't realize is that as they are getting wasted, they are also harming, even destroying relationships with other people. Take the story of 19-year-old Sarah, and her 17-year-old sister Maite.
While at a part a couple of years ago, Sarah ended up kissing one of her guy friends. "I was not attracted to him at all. It was nothing," she shares. But Sarah's boyfriend did not take the incident as lightly as she expected. "I decided to be honest and tell him what happened. I thought that if I told him, he would feel better." She did, but he didn't feel better. As a matter of fact, he broke up with her right after then and there.
"I felt so hurt and confused," Sarah shares. "I thought, ‘Would it have been better if I just didn't tell him? Maybe we would still be together.' But I would have felt terrible because I would know that I was hiding something from him." Despite all the pain and confusion that plagued her at that time, Sarah is sure about one thing, "I would never have kissed that guy if I was not so drunk. That night, it was really the alcohol talking."
"When I was in third year high school, one of my friends threw this big, big party. It was the kind of party where sounds were blasting, and food and alcohol were overflowing. Someone would bump me, my drink would fall and I'd just go get a new one," Maite, 17, recalls. "There was a manghuhula set up in one of the rooms that night and you could see her and the people lining up through a glass door. I was milling around drunkenly and talking to everyone and anyone. I looked inside the manghuhula's room and saw my friend on the other side of the glass door. We hadn't seen each other the whole night so I was so excited that I ran to the room where she was. When we got to each other, we both cursed really loud in our excitement." But it was not this chance encounter that made Maite's night memorable. "I didn't know that my ate was in the same room. She was so upset with what I said that she went straight home and made sumbong to my parents. My other older sister and I were supposed to sleep over in my friend's house that night, but our parents made us go home and I was grounded for six months."
According to Maite, that one drunken episode made her parents doubt her. "They were so unhappy with me. They wondered how I could say such vulgar things at that age and even worse, how I could say it in front of other people. They worried about my self-image, my self-respect, my reputation, and the way I projected myself and our family." Her parents' distrust triggered a cycle of grounding that has only recently begun to stop. "After that incident, they would always find something about me to be unhappy about-even the smallest things, like if they paged and I didn't respond in 10 minutes, I'd get grounded again."
Maite has a good idea of how that fateful night would have turned out had alcohol played a lesser role. "I ended up saying what I did because the alcohol made me feel my emotions more keenly and I couldn't control my mouth, too. Also, I had drunk enough so that I had tunnel vision. I wouldn't have been as excited as I was to see my friend and I probably wouldn't have cursed out loud." For Maite, the relationship that has suffered most because of her drinking is definitely the one with her parents. The consequences of this one drunken night have plagued her since.