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Alcohol abuse impairs judgment, health

Loud music pulsates and blares during her brother’s weekend high school party. A one-ounce glass is filled to the brim and cheers are heard all around while the holder of the glass closes her eyes and tosses the burning liquid down her throat.

This scene will forever be engraved in Allison Shockley’s, ’05, memory as her first experience with drinking.

“I started drinking when I was in fourth grade,” Shockley said. “I had a lot of ?baggage’ from my past and I didn’t want to feel the pain anymore; I tried it once with my brother and really liked it.”

Drinking is a growing concern among teenagers according to In 2000, 193 California teenagers died from alcohol-related accidents.

“Young people tend to take more chances while driving than the average adult,” Joesph Chudy M.D., staff psychiatrist at a local correctional institution, said.

“Drinking magnifies their risky driving behavior because it alters a person’s ability to make reasonable judgements. At that point their intoxication has the possibility to hurt people not invovled with the drinking, as is the case in an accident.”

The appeal of drinking is different for each person; for many it starts with the influence of a friend.

“I started drinking at a friend’s party my freshman year,” a senior who wished to remain anonymous said. “Even though I’ve had some bad experiences with it, I still drink every once in a while around friends or at parties.”

Drinking can be a very dangerous habit; in some cases it becomes addictive and people may begin to think they cannot function with out it.

“As time went on I became very dependent on alcohol,” Shockley said. “It basically took over my life and grew way out of my control.”

According to Chudy, the physical effects of teenage drinking can be fatal. It damages many parts of the body including, heart, brain, pancreas and liver. When drinking in large quantities or long periods of time, intoxication sets in and so does short-term memory damage. Doctors refer to periods like this as “blackouts.”

In a recent drinking campus poll, involving 142 campus students, almost all of the students who were polled had tried drinking at one time or another and about 90% of them decided they did not want to do it anymore.

However, some students think the risks of drinking outweigh the benefits.

“I don’t drink because it seems so pointless and it will eventually mess you up,” Garrett Horn, ’07, said. “Besides, it’s against the law for teens to drink, and they look so stupid when they are drunk anyway and I don’t think that’s cool.”

Numerous students who are willing to put in the effort to get over their problems have gone through the rehabilitation program, but they usually enter the program due to drug abuse problems.

“Thirty months ago I checked myself into a rehabilitation program,” Shockley said. “It hasn’t been easy, but I’ve had a lot of support. I attend AA (Alcoholics Anonymous) meetings regularly, and have recently graduated my therapy program.”

Shockley checked herself into the Cross Creek Manor in Laverkin, Utah, for support and rehabilitation. For more information on this program, go online at and then click on Cross Creek.

“If a person needs help getting away from their addiction, the best thing to do is talk to their families first,” Chudy said. “After its been discussed with their families, they should talk to the family doctor because they will know what is best for the individual.”

According to Shockley, more important than the programs you attend, are the friends you surround yourself with. Having friends with the same morals and standards makes it much easier to stay clean.

For more information on the risks of drinking, parents and students can go to

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