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May 18th, 2010 by Dr. Phil

How Do We Stop Teenage Binge Drinking?

bingeDrinking1We’ve got an interesting show Wednesday on teenagers who love to party and their parents who don’t seem to know how to get the problem under control. Coincidentally, I’ve been following a lawsuit in Massachusetts filed by one mother, Kathi Meyer, who decided to do something about a group of teenagers who, one night, went out and partied, which she says led to tragic consequences.

Ms. Meyer’s daughter, Taylor Meyer, was a beautiful teenager — an honor student, an athlete, a young woman with a bright future. In October 2008, she was with a group of friends who decided to celebrate after a high school football game in their small Massachusetts town. After going to a couple of house parties, they headed to a wooded area that was popular for teenage drinking. They allegedly began binge drinking, throwing down one drink after another. Taylor, who was said to be drunk, wandered off alone toward a swamp and disappeared. She tripped and fell into the frigid waters. Three days later, after a massive search, her body was recovered.

Earlier this year, Ms. Meyer filed a lawsuit against seven people, five under the age of 18, whom she says are responsible for Taylor’s death. She claims they brought the alcohol and made it available to Taylor on the night that she died. She also accuses those who were in the wooded area of not taking care of Taylor that night. She says at least some of them laughingly pointed Taylor toward the swamp instead of the street as she walked off. Ms. Meyer is accusing the defendants of negligence, wrongful death, conscious infliction of pain and punishment, and willful and reckless acts.

First of all, let me say how much I admire Ms. Meyer for her work at trying to alert kids to the dangers of binge drinking. Since Taylor’s death, Ms. Meyer has gone to schools around the region, talking about how big this problem is. (Surveys show that about 19 percent of young people between 12 and 20 report binge drinking, and 5,000 minors die every year from alcohol-related causes because of underage drinking.)

But what do you think about her lawsuit? Should a kid who’s been binge drinking be blamed for what happens to another kid who’s doing the same thing? Was Taylor forced to be out that night with her friends? Wasn’t it her decision to drink and keep drinking?

Before you make your own call over this issue, however, consider Ms. Meyer’s position. In a recent television interview, she said that the only way beneficial change is going to take place is when kids realize that full accountability will follow their actions. “When I go and speak to kids at schools, they always ask me, ‘What happened to those other kids (who were partying with Taylor)?’ And I have to look at them and tell them they got a $50 fine and eight hours of community service … The people involved in the circumstance of Taylor’s passing definitely did not realize how much they contributed to it, and I don’t feel that those people have learned even as of today.”

You have to admit, it’s an interesting argument. Is the law too easy on underage teenagers who go out drinking? If teenagers knew they could be sued for whatever happened to them or one of their friends on a night of drinking, would they think twice about what they’re doing?

These are hard questions, but this is also a very important issue. Obviously, something needs to be done to keep another Taylor Meyer tragedy from taking place. I’d love to hear your opinions.

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31 Responses to “How Do We Stop Teenage Binge Drinking?”

  1. FosterBoys says:

    First of all, my deepest condolences go out to the Meyer family.

    Kids, especially teens, can’t see around life’s corners. Getting them to accept accountability for their actions is even harder. The only solution I can come up with that gives me any peace of mind is to be completely honest with my children about all drugs (which alcohol is).

    Alcohol can kill you. I nearly OD’d at 17 from binge drinking. Marijuana cannot kill you.

    Stop lying to kids about what’s dangerous and what’s not and maybe they’ll start believing us. Otherwise, we’re just like all the other liars in their lives.

  2. What can we do?

    1) What you are doing bringing public awareness to so many important issues which is why THE DR. PHIL SHOW “and” THE DOCTORS are nominated for an Emmy and deserve to be nominated.

    As a teen> seeing commercials on hazards of abusing drugs worked for me to avoid as well as Presidential Physical Fitness program teaching me the mind/body connection at an early age. Thus and so, persons who see excellent programming on DR. PHIL SHOW and THE DOCTORS arms children & adults with valuable knowledge so aren’t snookered by person(s) on the wrong path.

    2) What Taylor Meyer’s mother is doing…

    3) Emotional and Life Skill Education K-12 DAILY classes of age appropriate topics architected by you, Dr. Phil, Robin, Jay, Dr. Lawlis and y’all’s colleagues. Since parents cannot teach what they have not learned and our EQ’s are as important as our IQ’s.

    DAILY CLASS with role playing of situations like this etc. of how to avoid being in such risky situations as binge drinking. Field trips to cemetery, prisons to make REAL. I actually thought of a TV series when I thought of SEARS home renovation series idea SEARS liked 2002, used in 2003, called PATTERNS… PATTERNS not produced yet. First 30 minutes shows a situation w/person(s) making less than perfect choice(s)… second half is same scenario making a choice with a more positive outcome. This would be a GREAT conversational tool in schools since even in 2010 we often have a “failure to communicate” consequences and a better response.

    Twenty/twenty “hindsight” is just that and Monday morning quarterbacking is just that and all point to being better prepared and putting into practice a better response. Emotional and Life Skill Education K-12 DAILY CLASS and maybe even in Freshman year college translate to: “Forewarned is forearmed.”

    The truth is not everyone has your best interest in mind so each individual has to. A police report of a man stalking me had that I was too diplomatic. True… polite to a fault setting me up to be exploited by predators. Often good students are polite students and the book “Gift of Fear” talks about predators targeting the polite souls to exploit.

    Who is to say that Taylor Meyer wasn’t like me. Someone, like me, who’s friends around her began risky behavior as teens that she didn’t want to participate in so she got up to leave. Because she wasn’t hip to it as a joke pointed in wrong direction.

    Just like the fervor people who make the right choices want those who don’t to make too. People who make the wrong choices have equal fervor that everyone play along to be accepted (change so they don’t have to change). That’s hard if persons you’ve known or thought you knew suddenly take a wrong turn. It can be as simple as not having a ride home, or not wanting to lose friends. Especially for an inexperienced drinker who to the experienced are entertainment to manipulate into drinking.

    People say it is lonely at the top and so it is taking the high road too when persons you’ve known or thought you knew suddenly choose gutter behavior. In 1992, in Developmental Psychology class in college, text then said the leading mental illness IS: substance abuse. THE LEADING MENTAL ILLNESS IS SUBSTANCE ABUSE. What’s fun or glamorous about that to make yourself mentally ill. It is amazing to me that with the stigma attached with mental illness that people, in beginning, CHOOSE to abuse substances to the point of acting crazy “being a danger to self and others.” There is no doubt that going where people drink is risky and binge drinking even riskier. No ifs, ands or butts.

    So that’s something to be role played in schools, or in a movie skit like PATTERNS, to teach students how to graciously avoid situations and ease out of relationships, i.e., with friends who turn off on a wrong path, as painful as it may be. Like Dr. Phil fired Katherine sometimes you have to fire “friends” due to misbehavior. You will be accused of being judgmental yet it is self preservation because nobody is immune from ruining life with substance abuse even if first time ever binge drank.

    A true friend is someone who wants you to do what is in your best interest. Binge drinking is not in anyone’s best interest. So youth need to learn to be their best friend for as you say Dr. Phil, “you are never alone if you are there for you.” Friends don’t pressure you to do what you have to hide to do because that’s not in your best interest.

    The night Taylor Meyer was pointed in the wrong direction those who did that weren’t her friend. However, Taylor Meyer willfully or being manipulated to drink was not there for herself. BE THERE FOR YOU. That red flag “this isn’t a good idea” is like that first guess on a test that often is the right choice. The more you second guess yourself or accept second hand choices of others that YOU know in YOUR heart of hearts isn’t a good idea… the more you lose that natural good intuition to avoid risky situations. You own the consequences of even second hand choices and not only have to live with them and sometimes die.

    When I was fifteen a man in our apartment complex I cleaned apartment for once a week in Dallas, said that a good rule of thumb is to, “Never do anything you’d be embarrassed for others to know.” Anything a person has to hide to do likely shouldn’t be doing. Shouldn’t be doing in the logical aspect… since not in person(s) best interest. So don’t do or go places people go to hide to do things shouldn’t be doing… like binge drinking. Be smart… don’t start. If in doubt about “friends” iffy plans… don’t go out. Someone without YOUR best interest in mind is NOT your friend. Someone who binge drinks isn’t even their own best friend so cannot be your friend.

    This is very frustrating to me because the summer of 1998, President Clinton Administration sent me contact info of EVERY State Department of Education head to suggest my idea of “Emotional and Life Skill Education K-12″ DAILY class of age appropriate topics because thought to be a good idea and, guess what, it still is a good idea. See, not only do we need quality programming on TV such as DR. PHIL SHOW and THE DOCTORS… We need quality DAILY Emotional and Life Skill Education class K-12 & Freshman year college so students who find themselves solicited by wrong crowd or IN an iffy situation have tools to get out of. So someone consumed by substance abuse can learn a way to escape.

    Including but not limited to a wallet size card w/help numbers such as a help number when need a ride home but are scared to call parents. With these numbers posted in every bathroom and even, perhaps, in bathrooms across USA. Including a number to call if you think someone is in danger. However, I truly believe if Emotional and Educational K-12 DAILY class begun in kindergarten that FINALLY we can end so many having to learn by experience by SHARING and TEACHING from experience many already learned the hard way. I doubt the survivors of Taylor Meyer will ever forget tragedy if have any sort of conscience. Who could? The conscience’s sentence if often longer than any jail sentence.

    I’ve said this before and so is redundantly overdue. I hope FINALLY someone not only listens to me like former President Clinton Administration did the summer of 1998, and implements EMOTIONAL AND LIFE SKILL EDUCATION K-12 nationwide (including in freshman year of college)… DAILY class of age appropriate topics since our EQ’s are as important as our IQ’s. Parents cannot teach what they have not learned and the only way to end cycles is to learn a better way and begin a new cycle.

    “Forewarned is forearmed” to avoid persons who binge drink and for substance abusers to learn a better way. You are NOT judgmental to avoid persons who have iffy behavior and anyone who says that is judgmental to not allow you to be who you are by NOT participating or being around their iffy behavior, i.e., binge drinking. Not because you think you are better per se’ yet because ANYONE can become ensnared so it is self preservation.

    Everyone is better than detrimental behavior and there isn’t anything much more detrimental than the loss of the precious life of someone like Taylor Meyer who was in over her head at a binge drinking party. Life is like economics: choice. I hope every Department of Education nationwide begins “Emotional and Life Skill Education K-12″ DAILY class of age appropriate topics in ALL schools so our youth can learn to make the best choices to last a long, happy life. How could this have been avoided? By this class being begun when first suggested the summer of 1998, when President Clinton Administration sent me EVERY head of Board of Education Nationwide to suggest and I did. (I still have notebook I wrote down all the contact info on that Clinton Administration sent to me “to” suggest this DAILY class.) It isn’t too late to implement now nationwide… it’s more than about time to. The 4th R we need in schools is learning to behave responsibly and it isn’t learned through osmosis… it is taught. Let us begin before another life like Taylor Meyer’s ends.

  3. sandra says:

    Binge Drinking—Tragic Statistics
    The following statistics reveal the sad consequences of binge drinking among college students in the United States:
    Death: Each year 1,400 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes
    Injury: 500,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured when under the influence of alcohol
    Assault: More than 600,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking
    Sexual Abuse: More than 70,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape

    Source: The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

  4. I am sort of contrarian here but I think that the best way to stop teen binge drinking is for parents to teach their kids how to handle alcohol responsibly. My state allows me to provide alcohol to my children and so I take advantage of this exemption.

    The simple fact is: if we teach our children that alcohol is something to be enjoyed at most in moderation and we structure home rules accordingly, the children will be less inclined to explore this topic in high school or college at parties. I see nothing wrong with allowing an 11 or 12 year old to have half a glass of wine with a special dinner (say, at a holiday gathering). Teaching children that this is the best way to enjoy alcoholic beverages responsibly is a good thing, and it prevents the party problems.

  5. Audrey says:

    I, as a teenager, do enjoy drinking alcohol. I enjoy the effects of alcohol – loosening up after a long day and feeling carefree. To me, somehow, it seems “more fun” when I drink at parties. However, unlike some teens out there, I do keep awareness of the amount I am consuming, only having enough to have a good time.
    People say that “you don’t need alcohol to have a good time”. I say that statement is very extreme. It is not applicable in every situation. I believe that alcohol can be consumed by teenagers, but in moderate amounts.
    I simply don’t understand why people binge drink, and then vomit/pass out/experience the worst hangover the next day etc…
    Is it to show off to your friends? It is not cool when your friends have to clean your vomit off the floor after. What is the point of doing this to your body?

  6. Linda says:

    I don´t think there is an easy solution to this. The problem is that it is hard to make teenagers realize that full accountability will follow their actions because the frontal lobe in the brain is not fully developed yet (atleast according to what I have read). To have information in schools is probably a good thing though. I don´t think a law suit will solve anything. I didn´t drink at all until I was about 25 because I have an uncle who is an alcoholic and that scared me I guess. My sister did drink when she was as young as 13. She was a bit wild until she was over 20 but luckily nothing ever happend. She is now 32 years old an a college graduate.

  7. I don’t think it can be stopped…I was 12 years old when I began drinking, HEAVY drinking and I didn’t stop until I was in my mid 30’s…At age 57 I STILL struggle with it but RARELY have a drink…

  8. Una Belward says:

    Dear Dr. Phil,
    I am from a little town in South Africa,and watch your shows everyday, we must be some time behind, but yesterday I watched a episode where a young girl came on to your programe warried about her mothers drinking problem, she had other siblings, and at the end of the programe agreed to go straight to the Hasienda
    rehabilitation centre, please tell me what happens to the children she leaves behind, I am sure you being the kind person you are you would not see them suffer, but would just like to know what happens to the children in cases like these. I really enjoy your programes, and think your children must be very happy
    to have a father like you. Best regards Una.

  9. Una Belward says:

    I agree to give permission to used this comment by Dr. Phil

  10. Purple Rose says:

    There is so much binge drinking in the college town I live that I don’t know how many have died as a result. There is so much crime on our university campus these days as well as in the past but they seem to be more often now. But not all the students are criminals, it seems though that when summer comes and the fall semester bunch leaves the crimes are less. I believe that most of the crimes are fuelled by drugs and alcohol.
    Binge drinkers need to get help and not got to jail, or recieve help while in jail, our prisons are too crowded with murderers, bank robbers, and vice versa. Just as drunk drivers need help to deal with their drinking problems. I was in a drunk driving accident as a child and I live to tell that these people need help controlling their problems.

  11. Paul Jansen says:

    Hy, My name Is Paul Jansen and i live in the Netherlands. In our country we have the same problem with binge drinking. In Holland they do it in barns.
    I think that when you bring some of those kids in a group of other kids with the same problem and you confront them with the problem and they can tell their story and the other kids listen to their storys, that way you can try to show them the mirror en they get the chance to think things over. Normal people do not like it to drink so much that you drink yourself in to a coma! Nobody likes to get that sick!!! Confront them with each ohter and let them self reflect on it.

    In my country you have all sort of courses and i teach also kids who are in highschool and try to make them think better of themselves through rollplaying and talk cases through! Sometimes that helps. A few weeks one lesson a week so that they can things over.

    Greetings from the Netherlands

    Paul Jansen
    Den Helder (Noord-Holland)
    Teacher in Selfdefence, Karate, Ju jutsu, Iaido, Self awareness

  12. lisa says:

    I write from Sweden, where I live, but I am russian.
    I am 23, but I have never in my whole life had a drink. I don’t even know the taste of beer or wine. I barely ever smelled it.
    I don’t have a religious family. I’ve seen my family drink on holydays. Often vodka, that’s what you drink in Russia. =)
    My grandfather was an alcoholic (died of poisoning), my father was one secretly, and is openly alcoholic now.
    My mom only drinks for fun, she gets drunk too fast, so she stops after a very small amount.
    My step-father is a doctor, and he drinks wine because he says it’s good for…something. The heart?

    But I, personally, never really cared for alcohol.. I was never interested in having a drink! I had friends and loved parties, I still am the first out on the dancefloor…People say that it looks like I am on drugs when I am out having fun!

    I think people just need to dare to have fun without alcohol. Cos it is possible! Someone here wrote that drinking alcohol makes you feel carefree. And relaxed? That is really bad if you are a young person and the only way you can relax your mind and let go of your inhabitions is only through alcohol!!! That’s a dull world to live in.
    And I’d like to point out, that I am a very shy girl by nature. So…if I never needed alcohol, I bet that other teens and young people out there can do without it too!

    Dr. Phil, I love your shows!!! I agree with almost everything (no, actually everything) you say.
    Everyday and every morning of my life I wake up to fight back the bad things, memories, experiences that I have had in my life. I do it by not making myself suffer, not making myself hurt. But instead by making myself happy, have dreams, reach my goals, love and be loved – no matter what the deepest, darkest corners of my mind tries to tell me.
    I’ve seen too much, and I had to understand things that a child shouldn’t even know about. A mentally ill parent, abuse, violance (my father once broke my mothers skull and I was watching that. Blood everywhere. Other time he broke her nose. I used to get in the way, but it never worked. Oh my, all the things that he used to do to her….It was just insane. She slept with a knife under her pillow. I slept in between them two – I mean the parents.), molestation, then moving to Sweden and a crazy step-father who mentally tortured us.. and us living in fear for 4 years. My mom almost gone crazy, slapping me, cursing me out for nothing (and I really believed her then, that I was a bad person, a devil of a child), she got depressed, we had no money (my step-father wouldn’t give her a penny), we had barely any clothes, she used to freeze in winter time, she lost jobs then got depressed over and over again…and ..It’s just silly to keep mention all these stuff, cos it’s just so much more to everyhting and the story’s so long…

    What I wanted to get at is, that I was happily married at 18 with my two years older boyfriend, who I’ve known since I was a child, and whom I basically grew up with. We had a small wedding when he was on a break from the army. I had no bridal dress, he had his uniform on. =) My mom couldn’t come, my older sister forgot to sign our rings (it was supposed to be her present to us). We never cared for the material things, or “the show”, we just wanted to make this promise to each other. This summer we will have been married for 5, sometimes turbulent, but very happy years. He learned swedish, is now studying english and is working as a mechanic, which was his dream. I keep studying at a great, one of a kind university where I will graduate in agricultural sciences, sustainable development and development of peripheral communities. We are planning to have children in a few years, when I have gotten my degree and a job.
    I also pursue my dearest hobby, which is singing. I have now a very close relashionship with my mother, I see my father in the summer, and I am having a good relashionship with my step-father, who has changed a lot, in a good way, during the last couple of years.
    Life is really what you make it to be. I could have been hurting myself now, living in the past, but I made a promise to myself once, that when I do have my life in my hands, I will do the best I can to take care of myself, and protect myself, and surround myself with good people and always have a positive attitude towards life, and always have hope and dreams, and belief in myself.

    So I recognize the things you talk about in the shows, and it just reasures me that I am on a right path, and it just makes me try even harder, and be a better person.

    (I have a dream of writing a book someday. There are so many horrible stories about russian women who married and moved to Sweden. Many of my moms friends experienced things that even I can’t imagine. One woman slept on the doormat, by the front door and only got to eat carrots for months. Another married a man who actually was a pedophile and she had to protect her boys from him…Me and my mom know so many women, some of them our closest friends who gone trough hell. And I want to write about it. Life in Sweden isn’t all what it seems. It’s looks like a paradise, but it’s a hell for those who don’t know about their rights.)

  13. Melanie Flood says:

    I think you can stop teen drinking by coming down hard on anyone caught under age drinking or serving to underage persons. If a college campus would send a student home with no refund of classes if they were caught drunk on campus, would they take such chances. I don’t think so, but high schools and colleges turn their head the other way when these kids show up drunk.

  14. Geneveine says:

    I am a 34 year old Mum of two teenagers and living in Australia.
    I agree there is alot of teenage binge drinking going on and I know that if the parents aren’t providing the kids with alcohol then the kids are gathering together amongst themselves with those who are able to get the alcohol for them. They make plans to get together with their friends and this is what they’re doing.
    The age limit is 18 here for teenagers to start drinking but I feel that if they’re going to get together with friends, pretend that they’re getting together to socialise and while out and about find a willing participant to provide them with alcohol would you not want them to be trying it or doing it in your own back yard where its safe.
    I don’t approve of underage drinking or binge drinking but as a parent what do you do?
    I think children today want to grow up so fast to do adult things that their whole physical and mental being isn’t ready for it and just can’t cope with it and the result of their behaviour ends up being their own tragedy or someone elses.
    Things have certainly changed.

  15. Sandy Margan says:

    The town I live in has a micro brewery ON campus, UW Platteville. WHAT does this teach college kids ? Higher education & it”s time to start drinking. HELLO, most of the kids on campus aren’t old enough to drink !!

  16. Jane says:

    My heart goes out to Taylor’s mom and other loved ones.

    How to fix this? Healing the kids who are so broken they see nothing wrong with potentially killing themselves by drinking way too much alcohol, who think it’s anything but horrible to get so drunk they can’t protect themselves. Getting through to their parents that teen drinking is SERIOUS – there needs to be somewhere the caring parents could go for help without serious repercussions, also somewhere the kids can turn for help. Fining the kids and parents who refuse to get real about teen drinking, including perhaps jail time.

  17. Anne says:

    I honestly think, the problems started meny times long before these kids start drinking. Probably there has been in some way or another problems, maybe there is no good contact between parents and children. In my family we try to keep talking to eachother, even if we don’t agree. Even if the children feel like here she goes again, but we keep talking, and even more important about everything, binge drinking, sex, drugs, loverboys, anything that might put them (my kids) in troubles, to our family it stays the solution: open communication. I just think people don’t communicate enough today!!!

  18. Deborah Carter says:

    Dr. Phil, I just watched your show on moms who drink and drive, and I saw this article about teens drinking. I personally am not and have never been an alcoholic, but I am the child of two addicts. My father was an alcoholic when I was conceived, and my mother became a drug addict after becoming involved with a man who was addicted. I lived with my father as an alcoholic for my first three years, then he left. My mom ended up with a man who was a drug addict, and she too became addicted. I then lived with two addicts until they were arrested when I was nine years old. At that time my brother and I were placed in foster care for four months, then sent from Texas to Louisiana to live with my father who…. you guessed it, was still an alcoholic. I would spend the hardest seven years of my life there, separated from my mother. But , I wrote you to tell her story, not mine. She made up her mind when she was arrested and lost custody of us to become a sober mother, and to help us rebuild our lives. My mom not only got sober, but with God’s help, she stayed sober through the next seven years of court battles to regain custody of my brother and I. My mom went through hell, yet she never turned back to her addiction for comfort; she stayed focused on the fact that my brother and I needed her. I was sixteen years old, my brother twelve when she finally got us back. My mom continued the hard work of putting her life and the life of her children back together. Because she never gave up, we got the chance to heal and recover from the hell we had been through. I am now the mother of three sons who have never suffered the shame of having an addict as a parent. I well remember being ashamed that my parents were doing drugs, and that we lived in a motel when I was 5 and started school. I remember feeling different, and honestly dirty, because of what they were doing. But, my mom became a mentor and my best friend and has maintained her sobriety for thirty years. We now go into a prison together to bring the ladies there a Christ centered recovery program called Celebrate Recovery. She can say that she’s been where they are, and I can say that I know what their children are going through. Together we try to offer hope to others in terrible circumstances. As I watched your show, I noticed you used a woman who’s been sober two years, and one who’s been sober five months. I couldn’t help but wonder if you have a thirty year success story. I do, my mom. I thought her story may benefit and inspire others. They can rebuild their own lives, and their relationships with their children! That can prevent their children from ever having to suffer the consequences of addiction. I am eternally grateful to God and my mother for making my choice clear. I chose to deal with my pain, so that I could heal rather than bury it. So often the craziness of our lives goes straight back to our childhood pain that we did not have the tools to manage. I pray you continue to offer hope to those who feel hopeless. They are the living dead, waiting to be awakened, and you have a way of waking them up.LOL

  19. Andrew says:

    Hi Dr Phil

    I have just watched your episode, Mom’s who drink. I am based in Australia (big drinking culture).

    I just want to congratulate your approach in helping people understand the severity of alcoholism, not only from their own point of view, but also from the point of view of the children and families associated.

    I too suffer from alcoholism and have sustained from drinking for nearly 5 years now. I completed an 8 month “live in” Rehab programme run by the Salvation Army in Brisbane (Australia)

    I had no where else to turn…or…knew where to turn and this is why I am commending your approach.

    I started drinking in the same manner that most young teenagers are introduced…by thinking it was cool to go to the local pub with the “Boys” and have a few innocent beers. This quickly escalated without to much encouragement…

    It was easy for me to have 15 + beers a night and a few spirits thrown in for good measure. I lost good jobs because I was incapable of fronting up for work the next day…but I always had the cunning ability to get another job almost immediately and sometimes for better money…so…there was no problem in my mind.

    My life started to go quickly sideways over a few years. I was a known sportsman, loved life and never thought drinking would ever get in the way of my life progressing, but it sadly did.

    As my drinking progresses, I started getting violent and having blackouts. I lost my Drivers licence a few times and ended up in court with assault charges on 3 separate occasions. The only thing that saved my from prison…was my job.

    My family had desperately tried to “Save me” – but I was 6ft 3 and bullet proof and rarely listened.

    Funny thing for me was…I did not drink every day and sometimes could go a week or 2 without (usually when I had no money left) Buinge Drinking has the sam long term health risks if not more. I had no idea.

    I lost good relationships because of my behaviour and I can’t begin to measure the opportunities I lost in business.

    After completing my 8 month Rehab….I was still a bit intimidated of the thought of going back to what I knew as a normal life. I was unsure If would be strong…but I learnt so much about alcoholism in Rehab…that I understood that a guy like me just cant afford to even pick up a drink and I was determined to not waste 8 months of staying away from drinking.

    With the support of AA and a great network of people who came to the Rehab to do the same thing I was doing (getting better) I have never looked back.

    I just take things a day at a time. After 4 and a bit years with no drinking…I can’t begin to tell you how my life has changed.

    It is not material things that are important, but for the sake of other Alcoholics wanting to make a change…I understand that you want to know what you will get if you stop. Unfortunately, I can’t begin to measure the positives, like the relationships with my family are back, my career is back……but just to give you an idea….

    I have stable relationships, I have my dream car that I purchased cash, I bought a house within 12 months of leaving Rehab, I started 2 businesses & the most important….I am ridiculously happy :-)

    Thank you Dr Phil for going hard on this topic. many, many more people need to see more of this.

  20. murayah says:

    the stories are so touching

  21. Dr. Phil,
    As you know and we’ve both studied the death’s related to drunk driving, and the actual disease this drug has cost so many families. Over thirteen thousand die each year as a result of drunk driving accidents. Now I live in a small town in Arkansas; That would basically “wipe-out” Garfield, or Clinton. And if a whole town were to be wiped off the map by a tornado; the government would step-in; but while 13,000 deaths take place over a one year period, our government finds that acceptable? In my opinion, alcohol is the worst of all drugs by evidenced in so many polls and I think it should be outlawed. Call me crazy, I know there are people that can and do drink responsibly, but it’s not necessarily something we’d miss. Or I’ll speak for myself, if me not having a glass of table wine occassionally would save even one life, it would be worth it.
    Warmest Regards; David Starkey
    p.s. I’m a grandfather of two beautiful grandchildren, and I grow more giddy as they get older. Be Well Man, love y’all…

  22. Cupid says:

    The only way to even deter teenage drinking I believe is to not drink as a parent. Most teens see other teens drinking, know most of their parents did the same when they were teens, and think it’s no big deal.

  23. kelligirl says:

    my heart goes out to the family who has lost greatly in this situation.

    i have read every one of these comments and i dont know if americans just think differently than canadians, but our drinking age is 19, and i am sure there have been some problems with drinking/and driving but i havent heard very much at all about bindge drinking in ontario.
    As far as sueing children for something they do not yet have the ability to see the consequences in is stupid, but to use them in another way like talking to other students over and over might help.
    canadians seem to think of the greater good for everyone, when tragic things like this happen to one. we embrace each other and try to learn as much as we can. Americans usually think only of themselves or its never their fault personally,so they sue each other making everyone bitter, and know one wins
    you cant push it off on anyone else to teach kids about alcohol there is only one leader THE parents,there can be many followers, only one leader. now one of the comments was made that Maybe they cant teach cause they dont know…. well i am sorry they do know safety and just pure common sense safety when their child goes out for the evening.. simple questions like where are you going to be? who will you be with? if my parents didnt like the people i wasent going.

    and has anyone ever heard of the buddy system, just like a designated driver, one person stays sober and parents check before their child goes out which
    friend has the job. now parents can take down every ones cell # especially the sober one…its not hard if parents want to take the time for their child mine
    did it for me, i hated it but by the time university came around i was looking for safe minded people myself

  24. Philip Jenkinson says:

    Here in northern Ireland there is a debate about how to tackle underage drinking, one of the proposals put forward is to have each pub and off license, within a town, use different colored plastic bags, or make the bags unique to each establishment. If teenagers are caught with alcohol in one of the bags then the pub/off license faces a fine for serving the teenagers.

  25. Liz says:

    Binge drinking is not the problem, it’s the solution. Yet another coping mechanism. The problem is the fact that children and teenagers are feeling the way that they are about their lives to the point that they feel the need to drink. And not just drink, but get drunk, wasted and stupid. When someone feels like these kids do; going out and getting drunk, hitting people and being hit, it feels GOOD. Breaking things feels better than being broken.
    There’s yet another generation seeking attention and getting nothing but discipline. These are the same children that cried every 20 minutes as toddlers, screamed in shopping centres at 5, the ones that cut themselves at 13 and started drinking, partying and having sex by 15….
    This is not due to lack of discipline, and enforcing further penalties and rules on these PEOPLE will not “make them start behaving”. Just like with any other person, you have to find out why they’re doing it, what is their motivation and most importantly what are they getting out of it. If you want them to stop doing this, you have to convince them that not drinking is worth it, in fact better than drinking. Not by scaring them with the consequences – often that, or the danger of it, is half the motivation – but by actually convincing them, making them feel as if they don’t need to drink. If their lives were satisfying without alcohol and partying, then they wouldn’t be doing it.

  26. Sofie says:

    Everything thats forbidden for people to do, like underage drinking, is so much more tempting and exciting then when alowed.
    I live in Amsterdam (The Netherlands) and im now 20 years old. Were alowed to drink when we pass the age of 16(soft drinks like beer and wine) and when enter 18, any alcohoc drink. We all prety much start drinking from an age of 15, but this usualy starts in company of our own parents. For example: A class of wine at the diner table. This way parents have the control to show and teach their kids whats the propriot way of having a drink. This way in the “proces” we start knowing how much we can handle and what amount of drink would actually be fun, instead of dont know where you would cross your own line; getting uncontroled, puke all over the place and wake up with a huge hangover or in worst case cenario; even dont wake up. I’ve seen this uncontroled drinking in the U.S myself, and also read/heard a lot about this isue. Its good to tell your child the right and wrongs in live but wouldnt it be even better to show and actually TEACH them. Safe them a room to party in your own house, this way you may actually see and know what going on with your kids and youd be able to control it when its crossing the line. This builds a lot of trust in both ways and you know your kid is safely under your own consern instead of others somewhere behind your back into the woods near to a swamp.

    So I thinks the only solution to this problem and many other isues in the US has started with making it taboe, rather look the other way instead of facing it.

  27. canada goose says:

    “Forewarned is forearmed” to avoid persons who binge drink and for substance abusers to learn a better way. You are NOT judgmental to avoid persons who have iffy behavior and anyone who says that is judgmental to not allow you to be who you are by NOT participating or being around their iffy behavior, i.e., binge drinking. Not because you think you are better per se’ yet because ANYONE can become ensnared so it is self preservation.

  28. Filbert says:

    I don’t think that anyone can ever stop a teen from drinking. However, I must say that there is a clear distinction between consuming alcohol and binge drinking. My father always talked about “consumer everything in moderation”. Although that statement has no scientific proof but I believe this applies for consuming alcohol. I believe that parents should teach their children about the dangers of alcoholic drinks (and having too much of it) when their kids start asking about having alcoholic drinks. Let me say that these dangers are very real and no one should ever think that such health risks will not become a reality.

  29. Qasim says:

    I am not sure on this one. I believe that panerts of course are a very vital role and shape the child. However, you can have the best panerts in the world that shower you with love and affection and that child can still turn to drugs. You don’t have to be around the drugs to become an addict. I grew up in a house where drugs were normal. I did end up doing meth and I became an alcoholic also. Now, my mother is still an addict and it has shown me how much I don’t want to be like her. I have friends that grew up in loving and nurturing environments and still turned to the dark side that provided something for them that they thought they needed. I have made it a point to not ever drink infront of my children and I had gotten sober from meth when my oldest son was 2, but I do not shelter them from knowing the dangers of drugs. it is unfortunate that I have had to show my son the dark side of drugs due to the fact that he can have no contact with his grandmother due to this. I always use that saying that my panerts did the best they could with what they knew. I just had to make sure and not repeat this vicious cycle with my children. I am very fortunate to work in an atmosphere that teaches me how to deal with these issues.

  30. Mark says:

    Binge drinking is a serious problem, one that will not go away. It has been going on for a very long time. Education is a great tool and so are real stories of consequences and tragedies. The best tool to avoid this behaviour is to live by example and to teach over and over again the morals and ethics of character, and hope your job has served your children a cornerstone to follow.

  31. art fulley says:

    Underage drinking is a serious problem. One step that can be managed is how the alcohol gets TO the teenagers. But sadly, alcohol is made available to teens-somehow…..Once alcohol is available to them, it is hard to stop the next step: the drinking of it. The teen brain is not mature enough to make good decisions in the face of social pressure+hormones+emotions. The consequence is extremely poor decision making. I cannot emphasize enough how the immaturity of the adolescent brain is a problem here. Of course, like anything, the degree of the problem is a bell curve. Many teens are fine, most have moderate problems, and some have terrible problems. So, rather than pointing fingers at who is to blame, lets work on interventions. Current alcohol education training for teens has them sitting at school in a desk- this is NOT going to help much- there is no party, no hormones, no emotions and no social pressure. We need to design better programs that try and recreate the actual situation that threatens teen sobriety. Then, in the heat of emotions, social pressure, and hormones, they will better learn how to make better decisions.

    Please- lets not point fingers anymore. Hows it working for us so far? Lets work on helping immature teen brains to deal with situations they should not be encountering in the first place: a party with alcohol.

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