In the past, alcohol was something that only the ‘grown-ups’ talked about. You would connect it to Amitabh Bachchan in ‘Satte Pe Satta’ or to a James Bond film. It was something that very few from the young generation aspired for, being labelled a ‘bad-habit’. But things stayed that way only till the new millennium brought along with it a social acceptance for liquor. Drinking is no longer talked about in hushed tones and nobody calls you an alcoholic because you like a tequila shot once in a while or a dry martini, shaken, not stirred. But along with this social acceptance, there’s an increasing concern that alcohol intake is attracting the younger age groups; marking the onset of a very slippery slope that leads to alcohol abuse.
The legal age for drinking in Andhra Pradesh is 21 and the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act, 2015 states that a person giving alcohol or drugs to a child shall be punished with 7 years imprisonment and/or Rs 1 lakh fine. Yet one can get liquor irrespective of their age at many watering holes. Also the sight of teenagers buying liquor without getting their ID checked is pretty common. Many don’t hesitate even from consuming country liquor like kallu (palm wine) or gudumba (black jaggery liquor), which lack a legal quality-control check, leading to alcohol poisoning.
The government does try to curb the problem by banning advertisements of alcoholic beverages on cable television, increasing the legal drinking age limit and the price of liquor. But alcohol companies circumvent such attempts by advertising soda, music or even glasses on private channels.
It is easier to brush off the underage drinkers as juvenile delinquents and bemoan about how this generation is the worst yet, but the solution lies in properly understanding why they turn to alcohol and what would help them steer clear of it. We ask Vizagites their opinion.
While we would like to believe that adolescents consuming alcohol is an affliction in western countries, it’s actually prevalent in Vizag too. Unfortunately, this behaviour paves the way for accompanying problems. It inhibits fostering of meaningful supportive relationships, makes the person irritable and seek similar company. They’re prone to disruptive activities, like riding to Araku at 1AM. Awareness talks on how to say no to peers should be encouraged. Struggling and reformed alcoholics might be encouraged to address school students about their journeys.
Anita Rao, Biker and a qualified Psychologist
Underage drinking has become a common yet serious issue in the society. I feel that adolescents get attracted to drinking due to various reasons. They get influenced by the environment around them. Many misguided youth think that to behave like an adult they have to fulfil certain criteria and drinking is one of them. Drinking occasionally under adult supervision might not affect the adolescent but if it turns out to be a habit and leads to binge drinking, that is when the real problem starts. It can lead to many physical and metabolic changes in the body, serious health issues might come up and social issues like accidents can increase. So, I feel that young adults should be guided properly from a tender age regarding issues like this.
Samhitha Badam, Student
People living in the western countries, facing temperatures ranging from 15 degrees Celsius to minus 20 degrees Celsius for a considerable time, require alcohol to fight the biting cold for their survival. But for us, conditions are different. Except for the 4 – 5 crores of people living in North India, the remaining 120 crores live in a climate that does not require alcohol. With the government depending on the revenue generated from the sale of alcohol, there is virtually no control over the menace. Research shows that children learn about acceptable behaviour by observing and copying their parents. They learn to walk and talk like their parents, and learn how to drink like them too. With underage drinking on the rise and mounting evidence of its dangers, it is time for parents to rewrite the rules. Parents who drink should take alcohol moderately in front of children. They should not hide the downside of drinking from their children. Teenagers who binge drink, experience problems with bone density, growth, hormone development and liver functioning. The formation of “National Association For Children Of Alcoholism” in The United States shows the gravity of the situation. Children drinking alcohol is neither safe nor legal.
Matta Srinivas, Advocate
Technology is striving to make our lives longer. Teenagers on the other hand are drinking and choosing an unhealthy lifestyle at an early age, reducing both the longevity and the quality of their lives. The paradox of this situation is pitiful. No matter how many breakthroughs we make in technology, how can the world progress if the youth itself is standing in its way? Don’t take your lives for granted. Spend the early years of your life to experience the joys in your present and not to inflict pain in your future. Say ‘No’ to underage drinking.
Abhishree Ganneriwala, Student