hurting myself.

Have you heard any of these myths? Maybe from yourself or your friends? Let's take a look at the real facts.

Myth #1: Drinking isn't that dangerous. One out of every three older teens admitted to a hospital emergency room for a serious injury is intoxicated. Alcohol is a major factor in all automobile accidents involving teens. And when alcohol is involved, there is a greater risk of suicide, homicide, or drowning.

Myth #2: I can drink without it affecting me. Drinking affects your judgment—your ability to make good decisions— whether you're aware of it or not. Once that happens, you're more likely to do something you'll regret, such as having unprotected sex, damaging someone's property, or being victimized by someone else.

Myth #3: I can sober up quickly with a cup of coffee or a


Terms like "Happy Hour" and stereotypes of the cheerful drunk at a holiday party can make you believe that drinking will help you feel happier. But take a look at this survey of teen drinkers (aged 12 to 17) to see how they are really feeling:

• Nearly half of all teens who drank alcohol reported feeling lonely.

• Approximately 30 percent of all teens who drank said that they cried a lot.

• More than 10 percent of all teens who drank reported deliberately trying to hurt or kill themselves.

• More than 20 percent of all teens who drank said that they felt as if no one loved them.

• More than 16 percent of all teens who drank felt worthless or inferior.

Source: "Patterns of Alcohol Use Among Adolescents and Associations with Emotional and Behavioral Problems," Office of Applied Studies Working Paper, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, March 2000

cold shower. Depending on how much you weigh and how much you have had to eat, it can take two to three hours to eliminate the alcohol in your body from only one to two drinks. Nothing can speed up the process. Coffee, cold showers, and exercise make no difference at all.

Myth #4:1 have to drink to hang with my friends. Each person handles alcohol differently. Females process alcohol differently than males. You cannot measure how alcohol will affect you by watching how it affects your friends. Nor should you let anyone tell you when or how much to drink.

Myth #5: Beer isn't as dangerous as "stronger" drinks. There is just as much alcohol in a 12-ounce bottle of beer as in a five-ounce glass of wine or a standard shot of 80-proof liquor (whether in a mixed drink or straight). Alcohol affects your body, no matter how you drink it.

Myth #6: I'm a good driver, even if I've had something to drink. Alcohol impairs your judgment. You may think you're driving well, without realizing how the alcohol has affected your response time and coordination. Underage drinking is illegal, and if you are caught drinking and driving you could lose your license. More important, teen drivers who have been drinking have a much greater risk of having a fatal car crash than nondrinkers.

Myth #7: Alcohol gives me energy. Alcohol is a depressant. It actually slows you down, affecting your ability to think, move, and speak.

Myth #8: It's only alcohol. It's not like I'm using drugs.

Alcohol is a drug. More than twice as many people are killed by alcohol and tobacco than by cocaine, heroin, and all other illegal drugs—combined.

Myth #9: If I drink too much, the worst that will happen is a bad hangover. If you drink too much too quickly, you can literally poison your body and die in only a few hours.

Myth #10: So what if I drink? It's my body—I'm only hurting myself. If you drink, you put many more people than

This vehicle was involved in a drunk driving accident. The National Transportation and Safety Administration estimates that 519,000 people, or one person per minute, are injured in alcohol-related crashes every year.

yourself at risk. Drinking can lead to aggressive behavior— behavior that can damage other people and their property. Innocent people have been killed because of drunk drivers. Alcohol damages many more people than simply the person with the drink in his or her hand.

We've explored some of the facts and fiction about alcohol, as well as ways for you to make responsible decisions about alcohol. Let's next take a look at the problems you might face if you suspect that someone you care about—a family member or friend—is drinking too much and how you can help.

Booze Basher

Booze Basher

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