18 Oct Keeping you safe: the buddy system
All grade levels wonder what to do when it comes to the peer pressure, the dangers, and the unknown factors of the party scene when alcohol is present. We often receive calls and texts from teens who are at a loss for what to do. So, here are some facts, stories and ideas on what to do….
In middle school
Some students in middle school find they are invited to parties (perhaps a high school party even) where boom! All of a sudden there is alcohol (gasp!) and you were not even imagining there would be (probably because MOST teens don’t even consume alcohol). In fact, you were pretty psyched for the “‘70s movie night” your friend told you it would be. So, what to do? Luckily, you went to the party with your best friend so you have a buddy to help manage the situation. In fact, having a buddy in any situation never gets old. From the time you are in preschool until you are an old wrinkly sort, having a friend to watch over and who has your back as well, will be key to surviving tricky social situations.
In high school
High school parties turn it up a notch and often have some kind of alcohol on the scene. Not all of them for sure! But by age 18, about 60% of teens have had at least one drink (Ibid). That means if you are invited to a raging high school party, chances are, alcohol will be invited too. Just be sure you are prepared to manage the party scene: What will be your response if offered a drink? What if you are teased for not drinking? Thinking ahead to these potential scenes will help you manage a situation so you are more comfortable overall.
You would also do well to know the warning signs that someone is in trouble: if you are a buddy to someone, you need to know when your buddy might be in trouble! Some warning signs are: a person can’t account for time passing, he/she is knocking into things, his speech is off/slurred, she’s repeating stories and/or she can’t seem to think logically. Believe it or not, when a person is intoxicated he could miss his curfew, trip, fall into a puddle of vomit, get up and say, “Howdie mush kabobs” and still think that he is fine: people lose their ability to judge their well being when they are drunk. That’s why people need someone to step in and help them out because their self-awareness has gone down the toilet. (And that’s why drinking responsibly when you are of age is so important.) That’s why having a buddy is a great idea.
So, if you choose to drink someday, make a plan to stay safe ahead of time. Look, not everyone drinks to get drunk. Far from it. Many, many people enjoy a glass of… whatever they enjoy… with a meal or to toast an occasion. They are considered to be responsible drinkers. But they usually have made a commitment to be responsible. They often make good decisions because doing so is part of their lifestyle.
But some people, including some teens who have decided to drink before they are of age, drink with the purpose getting drunk, aka “to party.” In such cases, having a plan about how you will get home safely and who will be looking out for you is important. In such cases, you can’t rely on your ability to make good decisions as both your ability to make good decisions and to pay attention to details might become impaired. That’s why many people who are otherwise super responsible have done dumb things when they are drunk.
Bottom line, be aware that if you are drinking to “party” you should play it safe and have a plan in place.
If you went to a party and things got out of control because of alcohol what would be your plan?