Ashley writes the advice column for a website that she and her friends designed. Lately she’s been getting a lot of e-mails about unspoken pressure to drink, so she made this week’s column all about that. Take a look....
My mom drinks a lot, especially since she lost her job. She says it helps her deal with the stress. Lately I’ve also been stressed out and I think about drinking, too. I’m feeling mixed up and don’t know where to turn. Help!
13 and TroubledDear 13 and Troubled,
Everyone learns from his or her parents—they’re our first role models. But you don’t need to drink to handle your troubles, just because your mom does. Alcohol won’t make you feel better—you can get sick, get in trouble, or do poorly in school. Try hanging out with friends who don’t drink, and get out of the house.
Also, there are people you can call for help. Your mother might have a drinking problem. Start by talking to an adult you trust. Also, check out these sources. Good luck!
Peace Out, Ashley
I’m a 14-year old boy and my brother, T.J., is 21. He’s a popular guy with lots of friends and a girlfriend. He’s been drinking beer with his buddies for a few years. He hasn’t gotten into any trouble--my parents didn’t know about it when he was younger. Meanwhile, my friends are starting to talk about drinking on Saturday nights. I don’t really want to, because I’m afraid I’ll get caught or sick or something. But so far it hasn’t hurt my brother, so I’m thinking about it. What should I do?
You may think drinking is OK because your brother--a major role model for you--hasn’t gotten into trouble with drinking. But that doesn’t make it any safer for you to drink at your age.
It is illegal to drink alcohol under the age of 21, and you could face serious legal problems. Also, alcohol won’t make you popular or help you find a girlfriend. It could do just the reverse. When your friends want to drink, you have a few options. First, remind yourself that most teens don’t drink, and remind yourself that it’s risky. Then, either find something non-alcoholic to drink or leave and hang out with friends who aren’t drinking.
My best friend just moved away. Now I pretty much watch TV everyday after school and on the weekends. There are a lot of ads for alcohol, and I always see people partying with drinks and having a good time. If they’re having such a good time and I’m lonely at home, should I go out and join the drinkers?
Thanks, TV Boy
Hi TV Boy,
Alcohol in TV shows may make you think that all the beautiful people with lots of friends drink and that drinking will turn you into one of them. The truth is not everyone drinks and a lot of bad things can happen with alcohol. Don’t let the TV fool you. Get off the couch and join a club or group at school and make some new friends.
Good luck! Ashley
I moved to a new neighborhood with my family and don’t know any of the kids, so I don’t really have anyone to hang out with. There is a group of kids my age that sit in the park and drink. They seem like they’re cool. I’m tired of being bored. Should I start hanging out with them even though they are into drinking?
Sick of Hanging out with Myself
Dear Sick of Hanging out with Myself,
If you decide to join that crowd, you will face pressure to drink. There are too many risks with drinking alcohol. Remind yourself that most kids your age don’t drink. Be careful about who you choose as friends. A good way to make new friends is to join a group or club at school or near your new neighborhood. Find some friends who enjoy things you like and who don’t drink.
See ya! Ashley
I was at a party last night where people were drinking. They were all hanging out in a circle, and I felt left out. I picked up a beer can and pretended to drink so I’d fit in. It seemed like a good idea at the time, but later I felt kinda dumb about it. What do you think of this trick? What should I do next time?
Thanks, Party Animal
Hi Party Animal,
First of all, if the party got busted you would be in serious trouble. Pretending to drink is not a good thing to do, because your friends will start asking you if you want drinks in the future. The best thing to do is to find something else to drink, find others who are not drinking and hang out with them, or, if you feel really uncomfortable, leave the party. You will get a chance to see your friends later.
Good luck, Ashley