Alcohol is a substance found in beer, wine and spirits which causes drunkenness. Alcohol can affect each person in many ways, and because of this, there is no amount where alcohol can be said to be safe for everyone (Department of Health, 2018). When people decide to drink alcohol, they must understand that there are many risks involved. However, there are ways in which we can minimalize the risk such as drinking water and eating a meal an hour before drinking alcohol (SA Health, 2018).
“what are the effects of alcohol on young adolescents and how can we reduce them?”
Figure one (VicHealth, 2014) shows all the alcohol related deaths and injuries for 2010. It also shows the different numbers between men and women. The highest cause of alcohol related deaths for men is injuries with 1,239 deaths (36%) followed by cancers (25%) and digestive diseases (16%). The highest cause of alcohol related deaths for women is cardiovascular diseases with 708 deaths (34%) followed by cancers (31%) and injuries (12%).
There are many factors that affect how alcohol harms your body, such as your gender, age, body size, drinking experience, genetics, nutritional status and metabolism (Better Health Channel, 2016). But overall, alcohol is having many negative effects on young adolescent’s physical and mental health. The short-term effects of alcohol include interpersonal conflict, falls and accidents, altered behavior (risky and violent) and hangovers (Better Health Channel, 2016). Long term effects of alcohol include car and other accidents, domestic and public violence, crime, family breakdown, social dysfunction, cardiovascular disease, mental health problems, suicide and much more (Better Health Channel, 2016).
But not only does alcohol affect youth personal health, it has a massive impact on the community’s heath as well. For example, the rate of alcohol–related traffic crashes are 17 times more likely for drivers ages 16 to 20 than for drivers age 21 and older (National Center for Injury Prevention and Control, 2012). This is affecting innocent drivers and pedestrians on the road who have been hit by these drink drivers.
Encounter youth is a not-for-profit charitable organization, meaning all money is given towards research and trying to stop alcohol related incidents. Encounter Youth started a program in South Australia called Party Safe for years 9-12, to help prepare young people and their parents for party events including Schoolies Festival and after parties (Encounter Youth, 2018). People are made aware of this organization through their website and either them contacting schools and offering presentations, or schools contacting to ask for one.
To address the issue of youth and alcohol, Encounter Youth include real stories experiences from young people involved in their community programs including Schoolies Festival and Hindley Street program (Encounter Youth, 2018). (Hindley street is a street in the Adelaide CBD that is the location of many well-known clubs and bars.). The Party Safe program involves presentations to schools around South Australia. From students and teachers reviews about the program, we can tell that it is effective and provides good information in their presentations. Some of the reviews from students and teachers include: “Great interaction with students for engagement. Loved the fact that the seminar wasn’t telling us what not to do” (Year 9 co-ordinator at Marryatville High School), “if I ever did find myself in a ‘dangerous’ situation, I feel I’d have more knowledge on how to approach it” (Year 11 student at Kildare High School).
Additional strategies to promote health outcomes to this issue of alcohol include constructing harsher laws such as larger fines or even doing time. This will be a bigger threat to underage drinkers and will make them think twice about drinking alcohol because they don’t want to have to face the larger consequences. Increasing the price of alcohol is also a way that can reduce young adolescents being able to access it and therefore effectively helping with the issue.
The role of communities addressing the issue of alcohol is the most important because community members know their communities best and can have a massive chance to affect change (Australian Drug Foundation, 2014). Imagine if your standing on a riverbank and one after the other, people drowning float past and you keep jumping in to save them. After a while you get too tired and can’t keep saving them, so you rely on others to help while you go ‘upstream’ to find that the problem is that there is a hole in a bridge that people are falling through. If you fix the hole, then you fix the issue. This river analogy is an example of going ‘upstream’ and fixing the cause other than trying to help victims one by one (Australian Drug Foundation, 2014).
Driving over the maximum speed limit and/or driving too fast for the weather, road and traffic conditions is classified as speeding. Speeding is one of the biggest causes of car crashes leading to fatality and injury, yet people still do it and believe it is safe (NSW Centre for Road Safety, n.d). There already are many risks involved with driving within the speed limit itself but even speeding just a little over increases the chance of an accident dramatically (NSW Centre for Road Safety, n.d). A good example of this is if you are driving down a street at 50km/h and see a pedestrian walking across the road and you brake 29m away, you would not hit the pedestrian. But, if you were driving at 60km/h in that same circumstance, you will be travelling at 44km/h when you hit the pedestrian (NSW Centre for Road Safety, n.d).
“How dangerous is speeding and what is being done to minimalize the people speeding on Australian roads?”
Figure two is a table that shows all the fatalities from car accidents in each state, in which speeding makes up 31% of it (Budget Direct, 2018). This statistic shows just how many people die from speeding each year.
There are many ways that speeding can personally affect someone. One way is losing their license, there are multiple ways that speeding can lead to license loss such as being caught by speed cameras or by the police (NSW Government, 2017). Another way that someone can be personally affected by speeding is crashes, if someone who is speeding is in an accident, the results are much worse and there is a significant higher chance of a fatality (Road Safety Commission, n.d). Killing or injuring a passenger is also a major way that someone may be affected, they must live with the guilt knowing that they are responsible for what happened and that they could have stopped it if they were following the limit.
People think that they are only going to harm themselves if they have an accident, but this is not true. There are many other people that can be involved such as pedestrians, cyclist and other cars on the road. A death of a victim in a car accident affects family members, friends, witnesses and the community in general (Allianz, 2018).
Figure three shows the probability of a pedestrian fatality when hit at different speeds as a percentage. At 40km/h you can see that there is only 20% chance of fatality, but only 10km/h higher at 50km/h it jumps to a massive 80%. This shows just how much speeding over the limit can change and affect other people.
An organization that is helping to put an end to speeding is BRAKE, already teaching 120+ schools about the dangers of speeding (Brake, n.d). This organization is government funded but also through donations which for every dollar, 89 cents are put towards teaching (Brake, n.d).
Brake is made aware of by there website, speaking to schools and schools spreading the word about them. The way that Brake address the issue of speeding is through teaching senior high school students about the dangers and how we can prevent them (Brake, n.d). Brake is known to be an effective program from the feedback that is provided. Some reviews from the high school students and teachers include: “we have found the BRAKE program very simple to implement” (Karyn Trapp) and “In my 30 years as a teacher I have seen many attempts to help students become safer drivers. BRAKE is, without doubt, the best I’ve seen.” (Laura Collier).
Some additional strategies I would suggest helping teach everyone about the risks of speeding is before getting their license, each person must go through a video showing what it is like from the driver’s seat when speeding and how long it takes to come to a stop. This would be a compulsory task to get their license.
Individuals have the responsibility to drive within the rules on the road and keep others out of risk. The community should be coming together and ending the threat of people by teaching each other and raising awareness. While the governments roles are to provide opportunities through organizations to raise awareness and even putting harsh laws against breaking these road rules.