May 1976

Who's Who polls students on drinking
no author

   Increasing numbers of high school juniors and seniors are drinking rather than using barbiturates, according to a nationwide poll conducted by Who's Who among American High School Students. The poll questioned 22,300 students.
    During the last five years, teen-age consumption of wine and beer has jumped by over 200 percent. In a 1971 survey, only two-fifths of the students questioned had indulged. This year, 87 percent were drinking wine; three-fourths, beer. Use of hard liquor also increased from 47 percent in 1971 to 61 percent in 1976.
   One reason given for hangovers becoming a common malady among teenagers is the easy access of alcohol. Three-quarters of the students said they could readily buy it, even if they were under age.
   Other reasons for increased teen-age drinking were: a general acceptance of alcohol use in society at large, marketing of varieties aimed specifically at the youth market, and student awareness of the harsh penalties for the use of other drugs.
   According to the survey, what parents think doesn't seem to make much of a difference. While 36 percent said their parents have no objections to their drinking, another third said parents either disapprove or don't know.
   The poll concluded that most teens will end up drinking socially and not to excess. While a plurality of students had indulged more than once or twice, they are not daily drinkers. A majority say they drink with friends for enjoyment, and 36 percent have a glass or two at family gatherings.
   However, 12 percent say they drink to "get high" and 2 percent feel drinking helps them cope with emotional problems. These groups may be in trouble. According to Alcoholics Anonymous, there are 500,000 teen-age alcoholics in the United States today; and the National Institute on Alcohol abuse and Alcoholism say 1 million teen-agers get high from alcohol at least once a week.