Contributed by Haley G.
It is often said that prom should be one of the most memorable nights in life. For most people, prom only happens once, and the decisions made will be remembered for a lifetime. So why drink on prom night? If prom is supposed to be a night to remember, why risk losing those special memories to alcohol?
Underage drinking is extremely common on prom night. In fact, 31% of teenagers reported they or their friends would use drugs or alcohol during prom night and graduation. But did you know that 86% of high school students in Georgia reported in the 2016 GSHS II survey that they had not consumed alcohol in the past 30 days. So why does it seem like drinking alcohol on prom night is so common?
The answer is all around us—the media. Social media, television and the internet often promote and glamorize the consumption of alcohol. Commercials involving alcohol often show upper-class individuals having extravagant parties; therefore, alcohol is associated with special events, and to most high-schoolers, prom classifies as a special event. Also, television and movies use intoxicated people to incite laughter and comedy, so teenagers view alcohol as a method of just having a good time. However, the media does not portray the harmful effects of alcohol.
Underage drinking leads to many problems in one’s academic and social life. Drinking too often can lower one’s academic performance, as heavy consumption of alcohol can seriously affect the brain. When drinking, people lose their inhibitions and usually makes poor decisions. This is because their frontal lobe (the part of the brain that deals with judgement) is suppressed. Therefore, when teenagers or people in general drink, they decide to make choices that they might not make when sober. Often, these choices are followed with regret the following day. This further demonstrates how consuming alcohol can be dangerous on prom night. If teenagers are drunk and unaware of their surroundings, they are more likely to engage in other risky behaviors like having unprotected sex, becoming a victim of or sexually assaulting someone, posting things online that can jeopardize their future, etc. When a person decides to drink on prom night, they put themselves and their future at risk.
Finally, one of the main reasons drinking on prom night is so very hazardous is because teens often decide to drive while intoxicated. As stated before, drinking can have harmful effects on the brain. This includes loss of judgement, impaired vision and unfamiliarity with one’s surroundings, all of which are key abilities for driving safely. Therefore, when people drink and drive, their senses are impaired. This can lead to an extremely high chance of an automobile accident, endangering not only one’s own life but the lives of others as well.
There are far more consequences than there are rewards to underage drinking. So, remember that you won’t be the only one sober on prom night. By choosing to be safe and sober, you can look forward to making prom a night to remember.
Haley is one of the Co-Presidents of the GUIDE Youth Advisory Board and has been a member for three years. She is a senior at Archer High School and will be attending Vanderbilt University in the fall.