Orange Partnership for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth

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Youth, Do Your Part: Understanding the Issue

What does alcohol do to you? You may have heard that alcohol will help you relax and loosen you up. What it does is depress your central nervous system. Why? Because alcohol IS a depressant. It affects the brain’s ability to send messages throughout your body.


So how does that affect you?

When you drink, messages from your brain to the rest of your body get interrupted. Your reactions become slower, like not being able to stand up or walk a straight line. You begin to have trouble understanding what people are saying to you or what is happening. The alcohol is affecting parts of your brain called the cerebellum and cerebral cortex. But wait, wait…there’s more…

iStock_000012873853XSmall-scaledbrain.jpgAlcohol also depresses the hypothalamus. That gets really scary because the hypothalamus controls your body’s metabolism, heart rate and blood pressure, among other things. If blood pressure and heart rate get too low, someone could slip into a coma or die. How much alcohol would result in an overdose? It’s hard to say because every person’s metabolism is based on many things, not just weight.

Have your parents ever said, “What were you thinking?” That may be because your prefrontal cortex, the part of your brain that makes decisions and helps you understand long-term consequences, doesn’t really get hard wired until around 24 years of age. Add alcohol to the mix, which will further slow this brain activity, and you have a recipe for potentially dangerous and regretted decisions.

And if that wasn’t enough, the memory-forming part of your brain, the hippocampus, is affected by alcohol, too. Who wants to lose memories like your first kiss, hanging out with your best friends, that game-winning goal, or the material you covered for your test? If you drink too much, instead of all saving those pleasant or helpful memories, your brain will lose them.

Lastly, if your consumption is high or frequent enough, or if you have alcohol dependency in your family, your brain may lead you to addiction. The younger you start drinking, the more likely you will experience major problems related to alcohol or addiction.


Alcohol has all kinds of effects on the brain: it's called BRAIN DAMAGE and is pretty similar having your bell rung on the football field. Studies have shown that brain activity in a teenager who drinks is similar to someone who has suffered concussions.


Binge Drinking

While most teens are not regularly drinking alcohol, you may know some who drink a lot and drink fast. That's binge drinking and doing so puts them at risk. Every year, there are over 190,000 ER visits for people under the age of 21 for alcohol related conditions and injuries (Source: Centers for Disease Control). Others might have well-meaning friends who put them to bed to "sleep it off". Some will feel horrible the next day but recover. Some are not so lucky.

By the way, binging for a guy is consuming five (5) or more drinks in a two-hour time frame. For a girl, that means having four (4) or more drinks in two hours.

 Find out more: Short Term Effects of Alcohol


One drink equals...

Depending on how drinks are poured or packaged, people think they are having one drink when they are actually drinking more. For instance,


Remember, there is no safe amount of alcohol for those under 21 or for those who have alcohol dependence in their family! Furthermore, one drink can impair judgment, risking trouble with the law, school or parents.

Am I a target? Simply put: YEP.

The alcohol industry knows that the sooner they can get teens drinking, the more likely they are to have life-long customers.

Statistics say students will watch about 18,000 hours of TV before graduating from high school and the amount of alcohol advertising that teens are seeing has increased over 70% in the past decade, more than any adult age group.

You may be thinking, "Advertising and media have no effect on my decisions." Unfortunately, research shows that we are all affected, even if we don't realize it. Alcohol companies know that youth are especially susceptible. The most heavily advertised brands are the most popular ones with youth and many studies have shown the connection between alcohol advertising and how much youth drink.

Even though the alcohol industry will tell us they aren't encouraging anyone under 21 to drink, we know this is a lie. Teens are 22 times more likely to see an alcohol product ad than an alcohol company-sponsored "responsibility" ad. It's easy to see that most of those ads are not targeting adults who use alcohol responsibly. They glamorize alcohol and make it those who drink appear fun or sophisticated. They try to make drinking a lot and often seem normal.Alcohol companies also make drinks taste like lemonade or other flavors to hide the taste of alcohol and target new drinkers by being sweet and cheap. Who are the new drinkers? Youth!

Want to learn more about alcohol advertising to youth? Check out the Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth.

Want to learn more about alcopops (flavored alcoholic beverages)?

Don't fall for it. Don't be a target.

Myths Advertisers Want You to Believe:

Drinking is a risk-free activity

Alcoholism rates continue to soar, but you never see alcohol companies portraying those who drink as anything but normal and desirable. Think champagne on a yacht at sunset.

Alcohol makes everything perfect

Having a drink can be fun. Having too much too often makes you feel miserable, ruins relationships, and it could rob you of a future.

The need for a daily drink is normal and desirable

The messaging in “Smirnoff half day off” implies that it’s acceptable to drink to the point where you miss a half a day’s work. How long will you keep that job?

Alcohol is a magic potion that can transform you

The message is clear: If you drink, you will have happiness, wealth, prestige, sophistication, success, maturity, athletic ability, virility and sex. In reality, alcohol abuse and addiction can take all this away from you.

Sports and alcohol go together

Numerous ads imply that sports and alcohol increases your ability to perform. But remember, alcohol slows you down, decreasing your ability to function at peak levels.

If these products were truly dangerous, the media would tell us

Most media are reluctant to bite the hand that feeds them (advertisers spend $2 billion annually on advertising and promotion).

Alcoholic beverage companies promote moderation in drinking.

Most of these programs are designed to encourage people not to drive drunk. They do not, however, question drinking to excess.

Do your part Report underage drinking and adults who provide: 1-888-888-TIPS
Your tips are anonymous and confidential.

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The success of the Orange Partnership for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth relies on grants and private donations.

We are thankful to Freedom House Recovery Center for providing administrative support for our fundraising efforts. When donating online, please be sure that Orange Partnership is selected from the Program section.

Continue to our secure donation page
Our donation page under Freedom House is hosted by JustGive.org

You may also donate by check

Note: Your check should be made out to Freedom House Recovery Center. Please write Orange Partnership on the memo line.

Mail to: Orange Partnership for Alcohol and Drug Free Youth
c/o Freedom House Recovery Center 104 New Stateside Dr.
Chapel Hill, NC 27516

Thanks for your support!

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Help keep our community’s youth safe by sharing information with local law enforcement about:

Tipline calls are anonymous and confidential and may be used to prevent illegal activities before they occur.

Call 1-888-888-TIPS (8477)

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Join the Safe Homes Network


The Safe Homes Network is a community of parents and other adults who have pledged NOT to provide alcohol, tobacco or other drugs to youth. They are promising to make reasonable efforts to ensure that youth are not obtaining or using these substances in their home or on their property.

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The partnership gives network members a directory of others who have signed the pledge. We will also keep members
up-to date on the issue of youth substance abuse through a bi-annual e-newsletter where you can learn how to encourage others to join our efforts. Click the button below to join the Safe Homes Network. For more information, contact Gayane Chambless at gayane@mhatriangle.org.  You can also check out the conversation on our Facebook page.

Sign the Safe Homes Pledge

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