Alcohol (Junior Drug Awareness) by Terri Peterson Smith

By Terri Peterson Smith

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Parents pass on more than their attitudes about drinking. Being a child of an alcoholic or having several alcoholic family members places a person at greater risk for alcohol problems. Research shows that the brains of children of alcoholics are slightly different than the brains of other children. Finding these differences could help to warn against later alcohol problems. The children of alcoholics are between 4 and 10 times more likely to become alcoholics themselves, compared to people who have no close relatives with alcoholism.

Another common medicine, acetaminophen (Tylenol), shouldn’t be mixed with alcohol because it can harm the liver. Certain antibiotics cause a problem, too. When taken with alcohol, some antibiotics can cause nausea, headache, and stomach pain. Alcohol and sleeping pills make an equally bad combination. Mixing alcohol with illegal drugs such as marijuana or narcotic drugs such as heroin is also extremely dangerous. In these cases, alcohol seems to intensify the effect of the drugs. Thus, smoking marijuana and drinking will rapidly affect concentration and coordination.

They look to adults for ideas about how to handle situations, and they copy adult behavior. Using alcohol is one way young people attempt to “try out” adult behavior. Most adults try to set a good example for the young people in their lives. Still, even these adults may give a bad message, without even realizing it. For example, adults may joke about the effects of heavy drinking, or give the impression that a person is tough if he or she can drink a lot of alcohol. Other parents may think their children’s alcohol use is something all teenagers all do, and therefore is no big deal.

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