Leading Cause of Death for Many
Motor vehicle crashes involving alcohol are the leading cause of death among ages 5 to 34 in America.
Teens and preteens abuse alcohol in both use and frequency more than all other drugs combined.
One study revealed 41 percent of teens say their parents allow them to go to parties with alcohol, a statistic that has risen over the past five years. A quarter of teens say parents allow them to drink without parental supervision, and more than 57 percent say their parents allow them to drink at home.
“Many adults support underage drinking because they believe they have little say in the matter (53 percent), but the fact remains, parents who adopt zero-tolerance policies are the number-one reason children don’t drink,” Wallace wrote.
Wallace also explained that parents who condone alcohol use because they feel underage drinking at home will keep their teens from drinking outside of the home may also be mistaken. According to SADD research, more than 57 percent of teens who are allowed to drink at home drink elsewhere with their friends.
What about efforts to reduce drunk driving and fatalities? In 1982, the percentage of alcohol-related deaths in Arizona was 58 percent. By 1987, this statistic began to drop as the United States decided to go back to the original 1935 drinking age of 21 years old. In 1988, the percentage of alcohol-related deaths on the road dropped to 52 percent. The number of deaths attributed to alcohol-related fatalities decreased dramatically over the 1990s until 2009 (the latest reports), when deaths on the road dropped to 32 percent in Arizona, according to the U.S. Department of Transportation.
Smith said these significant drops are most likely related to a significant increase in substance-abuse awareness in schools, homes and communities across the state and nation. While some feel that legalizing drugs and decreasing the drinking age to 18 is the answer, Smith said differently.
“What people consider to be the age of an adult may not really be right when you look at the brain. There’s impulse control to consider,” Smith said.
“Everyone can think of someone who has been negatively affected by alcohol,” Graham County Sheriff P.J. Allred said.
Alcohol abuse happens everywhere to all walks of life and has been an ongoing issue in communities for far too long, he said.
“Alcohol brings short-term happiness, but long-term misery. It eventually wears off, and people still have their problems to deal with,” Allred said.
Long-term effects in the Gila Valley range from rapes of adolescents to accidental deaths of children or loved ones. Sheriff Allred said one of the most difficult parts of his job is going to a home to tell a parent that their kid won’t be coming home due to an alcohol-related incident.
“That’s when most of these families get involved, when something like this happens to them. Nobody thinks it will happen to them until it’s too late,” he said.
These fatalities and injuries, however, come from just the legal substances. A significant part of the month of December shows an increase in drug-related deaths and medical emergencies.