C Have you ever felt you should Cut down on your drinking?

A Have people Annoyed you by criticizing your drinking?

G Have you ever felt bad or Guilty about your drinking?

E Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning (Eye opener)?

It can be difficult to recognize—or admit—that you have a problem. The organization Alcoholics Anonymous (AA) has developed a simple quiz for teenagers which you can find at If you answer "yes" to one or

At almost every party Lauren had gone to during the summer after her junior year of high school, beer had been served. She was proud of the fact that she could "hold her liquor," as one of the boys had said. She could drink a lot and almost never got sick. But lately she had found that sometimes she wouldn't remember all of what had happened the next day after a night of drinking. It was as if parts of her memory had been wiped away. Friends would tell her funny stories about things she had said or done, and she wouldn't remember doing or saying any of those things. Once or twice she had ended up with guys that she wouldn't even have talked to if she hadn't been drinking. Now, her best friend had told her that she thought Lauren was drinking too much—she had even called her an alcoholic! Lauren had laughed. She just liked drinking—she was way too young to be an alcoholic. Besides, she could stop anytime she wanted to. She just didn't want to right now.

I Lauren may think she can stop drinking at any time, but she is starting to exhibit some of the warning signs of alcoholism — blackouts, memory loss, and poor judgment. Alcoholism does not discriminate, and can affect anyone of any age.

Phase 1 Phase 2 Phase 3 (test)

In order to understand how alcoholism develops, researchers study animals in situations that mimic the positive and negative reinforcing characteristics of alcohol. In situation A, a mouse is trained to push a lever to receive either alcohol or water. The mouse will push the alcohol lever enough times to become intoxicated. In situation B, the mouse is allowed to turn a wheel to receive an electrical current that produces pleasant feelings. In situation C, the mouse is trained to associate one test area (Phase 1) with a drug, another test area (Phase 2) with a non-drug, and then allowed to choose between the two areas (Phase 3). The mouse always chose Phase 1 test area—the drug. These tests indicate that receiving positive reinforcement from the good feelings produced by drugs like alcohol conditions the mouse to seek alcohol on subsequent occasions.

more of these questions, you may need to take a closer look at your drinking and how alcohol is affecting your life.

If your answers to these questions suggest that you have a problem with alcohol, there are many people and organizations that can help. Find someone you can trust—a teacher, school counselor, pastor, or parent—and ask for his or her advice. Look in your phone book for a list of local support groups and chapters of national organizations that may be able to provide you with information or assistance. At the end of this book you will also find a list of national organizations that specialize in providing information and assistance to teens and others struggling with alcohol-related problems.

Booze Basher

Booze Basher

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