I would like to start this reflection with a conversation with my dad a few weeks ago. He told me how ages 18 through 21 are the 3 most dangerous years in your life in regards with the trouble you can get in with the law. Ironically, a week after this conversation a video from the beginning of the school year had surfaced days after a minor incident at Reinert and with the combination of the two events I was let go from my desk worker job without warning. Moral of the story; social media follows you and you should be very careful to make sure nothing bad of you gets posted.
According to Jacquelyn Smith in her article How Social Media Can Help (Or Hurt) You In Your Job Search, “A third (34%) of employers who scan social media profiles said they have found content that has caused them not to hire the candidate.” She also went on to state that “About half of those employers said they didn’t offer a job candidate the position because of provocative or inappropriate photos and information posted on his or her profile; while 45% said they chose not to hire someone because of evidence of drinking and/or drug use on his or her social profiles.” I made a mistake with the video I took because it does not reflect on me in a professional light, if seen by one of my potential future employers.
The Johns Hopkins Public school of Health website has an article about the risks of teen drinking called Consequences of Underage Drinking. Some of the risks associated with underage drinking are “Increases the risk of physical and sexual assault, it is associated with academic failure, illicit drug use, tobacco use, and can cause a range of physical consequences, from hangovers to death from alcohol poisoning” It is important to wait till you are of legal age to drink alcohol because it is bad for the adolescent brain. The article also outlines this by saying alcohol “Can cause alterations in the structure and function of the developing brain, which continues to mature into the mid- to late twenties, and may have consequences reaching far beyond adolescence”
This article even covered the specific dangers to alcohol being on a college campus. Fox example, “An estimated 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes, and about 100,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape” All of these statistics are evidence for the fact that underage drinking is dangerous and has no place on a college campus. A majority of the fatal cases are binge drinking related, which is much different from the correct, safe, and responsible way to consume alcohol. This is particularly detrimental since the main binge drinkers are adolescents that undergo much more bodily damage than someone who is older and fully developed.
The next article I looked into called How Does Alcohol Affect Cognitive Behavior?
approached the topic from a more scientific point of view, specifically alcohols effect on decision making. After outlining the neurotransmitters involved in alcohol consumption the author goes on to say “alcohol consumption can damage the hippocampus, which is involved in memory functions and learning abilities; the cerebral cortex, which is responsible for decision-making skills and problem-solving abilities; and the cerebellum that works with coordination, emotional regulation, and movement capabilities.” The entire concept of getting drunk could accurately be stated as enjoying the feeling of poisoning yourself. Alcohol offers no health benefits and can be very addicting, with many people developing alcohol dependencies. “Addiction involving alcohol is considered a brain disease, as the brain’s wiring and circuitry are altered and the ability to control drinking is impeded”
This article even goes as deep to explain the science of alcohol dependency. “Since GABA is increased with alcohol consumption and serves to slow functions of the central nervous system, if alcohol is suddenly removed after a dependence has formed, these autonomic functions can rebound. This occurs as the brain struggles to restore balance to its chemical makeup.” Once your body has formed this dependency, if you try to not drink your body’s “Heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, respiration, and the stress response are then heightened.” Another piece of evidence supporting the claim of underage drinking affecting decision making is “Individuals may suffer from “foggy thinking” as well as depressed moods, insomnia, and anxiety.” My decision to take the video I did was a mistake and an example of alcohol affecting my decision making.
Another interesting article I found was on Northpoint Washington and was called How Alcohol Affects the Brain. This article outlines the adverse short term and long term consequences of alcohol consumption depending on how much or little you drink. Also, they classify someone as a heavy or chronic drinker for binge drinking five or more times a month. I can honestly say that that has never been the case in my life and my now knowing that will influence my actions in the future regarding the topic. For short term effects of alcohol, the article lists “Slurring your speech, becoming drowsy, having problems with your vision and hearing, problems with your judgment and making decisions, problems with your coordination, and blackouts and memory lapses.” The article spends a long time talking about a condition called Wernicke-Kirsakoff Syndrome which is common among people with alcohol use disorder “caused because Vitamin B1 is deficient in the body due to excessive drinking.” Some symptoms of Wernicke-Kirsakoff Syndrome include “Bouts of confusion, the loss of mental activity that can progress into a coma and eventually, death, loss of muscle control, changes in vision, problems with forming new memories, severe memory loss, having hallucinations.” As you can see, alcohol can have a significant impact on your quality of life and health.
Alcohol can create not only problems for yourself, but for your close friends and family who love you, or your future spouse. This is outlined in the article What Are the Problems and Effects of Alcoholism On Families and Marriages by the American Addiction Center and provides yet another significant reason to consume alcohol responsibly. Alcohol can strain family relationships because “people who drink can blow through the family budget, cause fights, ignore children, and otherwise impair the health and happiness of the people they love.” A good motivator to stay away from alcohol is out of respect for the people who care for and love you, and how those people would not want to see you with an alcohol dependency. And in regards to your future spouse, “Of married couples who get into physical altercations, some 60-70 percent abuse alcohol.” Safe consumption of alcohol is ok given that you are of legal age, but it is vital that you do not let your drinking habits get out of hand for your sake, as well as for all the people that love you and want the best for you.
Also, alcohol abuse can create financial troubles since alcohol is fairly expensive, and because of the nature by which it is consumed. For example, “Because your inhibitions are lowered when you drink alcohol, you may be more likely to impulsively buy things without thinking through the consequences of those purchases in the moment.” When your funneling a large portion of your paycheck into something that lowers your productivity, you are on a downward slope to being poor and hurting the close ones around you whether it be emotionally (family and friends) and/or finatialy (spouse and children).
In regards to one day being a father, “Early exposure to an alcohol abuser can also increase the child’s propensity to have a problematic relationship with alcohol.” I have seen some of these kinds of problems in the real world with some members of my extended family and it can be emotionally tolling to say the least. I had parents that did not have substance abuse problems and want the best for me and I intend to be that positive role model one day for my children. It is not fair to let people destroy their lives with alcohol even if it is their choice since they are effecting a lot more than just themself.
To conclude, I have learned from my mistakes and look forward to taking what I learned last semester and making next semester the best it can be. I am very sad I lost my job over this but will not let that stop me from bouncing back and finding a new one this semester. Alcohol can be safe when consumed responsibly, but when used irresponsibly and can have a substantial impact on your health mentally and physically, your financial situation, your relationship with your family friends and spouse, the future of your children, and much more. It is obviously in my best interest to wait till I’m 21 to begin my journey with drinking, and to make the right choices with it along the way.