When I was a youngster, movies often depicted drunks as being hilariously funny. All too often — then and now — they depict drinking as a humorous and harmless social habit to acquire.
Unfortunately, the public presentations of alcohol, particularly in the beer and wine commercials today, lead us to believe it truly is "the good life." However, every health authority understands there is a downside to making alcohol appear glamorous and attractive. Maggie Fox, a health and science correspondent, observes that children who start drinking before age 15 are four times more likely to become alcoholics, formally known as "alcohol-dependent," than those who start at age 21.
Dr. Forest Tennant says that the younger a person starts drinking, the more likely he or she is to develop serious drinking problems. The idea that we can "teach our children how to drink" is absurd. How much better it would be to teach them not to drink!
Consider this: A 13-year-old who starts drinking has more than a 25 percent chance of becoming an alcoholic. And if there is a family history of alcohol abuse, that chance grows to 58 percent. Research indicates that if young people wait until 21 to start drinking, only 10 percent develop a drinking problem. However, "only 10 percent" means that 10 percent of our young people end up in the alcoholic jungle, so 10 percent takes on an entirely different meaning.
Unfortunately, there are many drawbacks to alcohol consumption, including risky sex, which may lead to unwanted pregnancy, exposure to the HIV virus or other sexually transmitted diseases. Alcohol is also strongly linked to violence, depression and suicide.
Suggestion: Clip this column and stick it on the bathroom mirror so your young people can read it as they get old enough to read. Who knows? Maybe it could prevent a tragedy in your own family. Take that advice, and I'll see you at the top!
To find out more about Zig Ziglar and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com. Subscribe to Zig Ziglar's free email newsletter through ziglar.com.