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2003 PE Report

Americans find comfort in ‘nesting,’ but connecting is another matter (December 22, 2002)

Viewer discretion advised: Reality-based programs stoop to new low (December 15, 2002)

A/G among fastest growing faith groups (December 8, 2002)

Christians play crucial role in foster care (November 24, 2002)

A/G churches remember with outreaches (November 17, 2002)

Elderly face added woes from credit card debt (November 10, 2002)

PE Kidz News from BGMC (October 27, 2002)

Cyber-evangelists find innovative ways to share gospel (October 20, 2002)

Risks, stigma accompany wearing of tattoos (October 13, 2002)

Women lead on-campus ministries (September 29, 2002)

Tobacco, alcohol, gambling industries find underage Internet client base (September 22, 2002)

Marijuana, cocaine have abusive company: Ecstasy, meth and prescription painkillers (September 15, 2002)

September 11: A day that changed American Christians forever (September 8, 2002)

Congress, courts clash over Internet filtering issue (August 25, 2002)

People with disabilities bless churches (August 18, 2002)

Short-term youth binges can result in long-term habit (August 11, 2002)

Christians aim to preserve traditional marriage (July 28, 2002)

Payback time: Christian volunteers motivated to give back to community (July 21, 2002)

Urban training centers minister
to ever-growing population
(July 14, 2002)

E-mail rumors dupe multitudes, hurt credibility (June 30, 2002)

Not so innocent: PG-13 films increasingly push sex, language limits (June 23, 2002)

Skipping church: Why are some Americans staying home on Sunday? (June 16, 2002)

Fudge fellowship: Pastor's wife treats tavern clientele (June 9, 2002)

Persevering nomadic church finally reaches promised land (May 26, 2002)

Tragedy brings A/G church, community closer to God (May 19, 2002)

Couples find God's calling in adopting, raising children (May 12, 2002)

A/G chaplain ministers to women in maximum-security prison (April 28, 2002)

Youth center offers alternative to teens (April 21, 2002)

A week without television (April 14, 2002)

Technological know-how aids San Jose church outreach (March 31, 2002)

Cincinnati racial reconciliation brings inner peace to inner city (March 24, 2002)

District's fund-raising efforts aid pastors planting churches (March 17, 2002)

GED program an effective ministry (March 10, 2002)

Building relationshipis at heart of women's ministries outreach (February 24, 2002)

Single-minded devotion: Unmarried ranks offer ministry opportunities (February 17, 2002)

Bethany College honors black minister pioneer (February 10, 2002)

A/G quarterback wins Unitas Award (January 27, 2002)

Camp Melody plants song of love in boys' hearts (January 20, 2002)

Pastor breaks giving record after 10 days atop billboard (January 13, 2002)

2001 News Digest stories

2000 News Digest stories

Short-term youth binge can result in long-term habit

By Isaac Olivarez (August 11, 2002)

Paul Espinoza took his first drink of beer at age 6. By age 12, he had acquired a taste for vodka and drank regularly, stayed out late and engaged in fights.

"I began experimenting with other drugs and disobeying my parents," says Espinoza, now 22. "My mom tried her hardest to control me, but by the time I was 15 I was out of control." Though Espinoza is sober today, his adolescence is indicative of many American young people who ignore warnings that alcohol consumption can be injurious — or even deadly.

According to the National Center of Addiction and Substance Abuse, alcohol is a related factor in the deaths of nearly seven times more youth in the United States than all illegal drugs such as marijuana, heroin and ecstasy. It’s a problem experts say isn’t going away.

Though rates of underage drinking have fluctuated in the past 20 years, they remain high. According to Partnership for a Drug-Free America, 53 percent of teens reported drinking last year.

Although the legal drinking age in each state is 21, alcohol use is rampant among America’s youth. But studies indicate that parents who declare alcohol consumption off-limits are less likely to see their children develop drinking habits.

"Alcohol is the number one youth drug problem," says Millie Webb, national president of Mothers Against Drunk Driving in Irving, Texas. "Underage drinking is a problem that touches all families, whether directly or indirectly."

A recent report from the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse revealed that nearly 7 million people ages 12-20 had participated in binge drinking (five or more drinks in a row). The correlation between underage drinking and alcohol dependency later in life is not a coincidence.

"Adults who started drinking before age 21 are twice as likely to have alcohol-related problems," Susan Foster, vice president of the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, told PE Report. "Those who started drinking before age 15 are four times likelier to be alcoholics."

Kenneth Sher, psychology professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia, agrees. "Individuals who consume alcohol at a young age are more likely to have a variety of behavior problems in adolescence and adulthood," he says. "Early drinking sets up a more severe trajectory of risky and problematic behavior."

While teen drinking has long been associated with males, girls are increasingly experimenting with alcohol at an early age. The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse reported in February that 48 percent of teen drinkers are girls.

"Because of the way girls metabolize alcohol (at a slower rate), they get drunk sooner," Foster says. "So girls who try to ‘keep up with the boys’ are likely to suffer a bigger hit than the boys."

The reason for teen drinking usually doesn’t originate from an appreciation for alcohol’s taste. "I definitely don’t drink for the taste, but for the way I feel afterwards," says one 19-year-old female.

One of the main problems with any excessive consumption of alcohol is that intoxicated teens, like adults, make decisions that put them at risk. While the usual concern people have is drinking and driving, Foster says there are additional dangers.

"Teen drinking is a major contributing factor in the three leading causes of teen death: accidents, homicide and suicide," she says. "Teens who drink are five times likelier to drop out of school and seven times likelier to have sexual intercourse."

Often teens don’t immediately realize the consequences of their poor choices. "If I could go back and start all over again, I never would have started drinking in the first place," the 19-year-old female says. "Nothing good ever comes out of drinking."

But not all teens realize how underage drinking can ruin their lives, says Foster. Most need help in the form of mentors — teachers, adult role models and, most importantly, parents. But how can parents have a positive impact on their children’s social habits? Foster says parents who are actively engaged in the lives of their teens are far less likely to see their children use alcohol.

"Hands-on parents know where their children are and who their friends are," she says. "They send clear messages against substance abuse and give their children perspective on media messages glorifying alcohol use and making it appear without consequence."

Foster emphasizes that parents’ attitudes about alcohol and drinking greatly influence a young person’s choices. "Teens who do not drink and use drugs largely credit their parents with their decision," Foster says. "Parents who set rules and expectations and enforce consequences have teens who are far less likely to use alcohol."


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