Eye Of The Tiger: Teenagers Ignore Red Ribbon Week Morals


Amy Schexnayder, staff writer

As an elementary school student, Red Ribbon Week was the highlight of my year. This week meant dressing in all red clothes, fun activities, millions of red stickers, red yoyos, red lollipops, pep rallies and all the red glitter you could think of. The actual purpose of Red Ribbon Week was certainly not the reason we enjoyed it, but learning about drug misuse was the perfect excuse to have a fun week at school.

Despite the efforts of elementary school programs to discourage drugs, many students, especially during high school, begin to experiment and try illegal substances. High school is the first time that students experience freedom and begin to experiment with who they really are. Teenagers start to go to parties where they often try alcohol and maybe even different drugs.

According to dosomething.org, “By the 8th grade, 28 percent of adolescents have consumed alcohol, 15 percent have smoked cigarettes, and 16.5 percent have used marijuana.”

But are drugs and alcohol all that bad?

I argue that consistent use of drugs and alcohol is when substance usage become dangerous. Once students begin to participate in drug use and alcohol every weekend, they can begin to lose sight of their goals and develop the side effects caused by drug and alcohol use. Smoking marijuana causes short term effects such as temporary dizziness or memory loss. It can also cause long term effects, such as a difficulty in learning harder and more complex tasks.

However, I think drinking responsibly every now and then will not significantly impact a student’s body. Drinking should certainly not be done nightly, but beginning to try alcohol is not always a bad thing. By developing a tolerance to alcohol, a person becomes much less likely to get drunk and make irrational, dangerous decisions later in life.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, some teenagers begin to drink at the early age of 13. A student who is only 13 is likely not ready to experiment with alcohol, but alcohol in small portions will not significantly impact the body. However, the drinking law is set at the age of 21, because alcohol before age 21 is usually not consumed responsibly, and the body and brain are not yet done growing. Alcohol can impact the brain’s development and should be carefully considered before teens consume it at a young age.

It is vital however that students are prepared to drink and assume responsibility for their actions. According to camy.org, “annually, about 5,000 people under age 21 die from alcohol-related injuries involving underage drinking.” This includes far too many teenagers and emphasizes the importance of being responsible when consuming alcohol.

That being said, everybody is different and some people are much more affected by alcohol and drug use than others. People have different levels of self-control. Some people can become addicted after even the first use, while others can use drugs or alcohol frequently but still resistant addiction. Alcoholism and drug addiction is controlled somewhat through genes and heredity, causing it to be largely variable from person to person.

“Teens who consume alcohol before age 15 are 5 times more likely to develop alcohol use of dependence than people who first used alcohol age 21 or older,” according to the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence,

Personally, I don’t participate in any drug or alcohol abuse. I am athletic, and I’m not willing to take the chance of damaging my body through drug or alcohol use. Maybe it’s because of all the years of Red Ribbon Week, or maybe it’s just self-protection, but regardless, I don’t want to take the risk of damaging my body.

As Red Ribbon Week instilled in us, even in the days of elementary school, it is important that we take careful thought and consideration with the use of drugs and alcohol.