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Gina Scarpino

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The Most Dangerous Type of Facebook Photos

Posted: 04/ 2/2012 8:26 am

It's not easy to make the transition to high school. Balancing all the homework, tests, extra-curricular activities and a social life is not easy. A lot of high schoolers now find their way of escaping from all the stress through drinking alcohol and doing drugs. Some teens start by being exposed to pictures on Facebook of drinking or illegal drug use, and then they feel the need to try it. But posting pictures that show minors drinking or participating in the use of illegal drugs could get you into trouble. With great privileges like having a Facebook come great responsibilities.

In 2010, Joseph Califano Jr., the chairman and founder of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), released the results of his National Survey of American Attitudes on Substance Abuse XV: Teens and Parents.

"The relationship of social-networking site images of kids drunk, passed out, or using drugs... to increased teen risk of substance abuse offers grotesque confirmation of the adage that a picture is worth a thousand words," Califano said in the press release of his 2010 substance abuse study.

The CASA study suggested that 70 percent of teens spend time on some form of social networking site, and according to the study, half of those teens have seen pictures of their peers drunk, passed out, or using drugs. Being a witness of pictures of these sorts, I have never felt a sense of peer pressure or a need to drink or smoke (or do whatever other drugs people are doing these days). But the study conducted at CASA has shown that a high school student that witnesses pictures of substance abuse on Facebook and other social networking sites is more likely to drink or do drugs.

As a 16-year-old, I understand peer pressure and that feeling of doing something with the sole purpose of feeling "cool." But what if your parents saw one of your red cup pictures? According to a 2010 study conducted by a consumer electronics website, Retrevo, nearly half (48 percent) of parents add their children as friends on Facebook. You can put parents on limited profile, but one of those scandalous pictures could slip by and end up on those parts of the profile that your parents can see.

In the Palo Alto Unified School District (PAUSD), we are educated on the causes and effects of drinking alcohol and doing drugs in the seventh grade. We are taught about the effects of binge drinking and driving drunk. Even though the dangers of this toxic substance is emphasized numerous times over the years in school, some teenagers just cannot seem to understand the harmful effects that alcohol can have on you.

There are those teenagers who drink and then there are the ones who binge drink. Obviously neither of them are good for you, but binge drinking could really kill you. Let's say you're a 17-year-old and you're at a friend's house on a Saturday night. There are cans of beer sitting on the kitchen table and you're offered some. You were not going there with the intention of drinking but let's just say that by the end of the night you had chugged four cans of beer. I have heard about teens doing this and I find it beyond stupid. Chugging that much alcohol in such a small amount of time is pretty much asking for a trip to the hospital. Too much alcohol intake will lead to the alcohol saturating your body tissues and waiting to be broken down by your liver. But drinking too much over time can lead to cirrhosis or even liver failure.

The National Youth Anti-Drug Media Campaign, a program of the Office of National Drug Control Policy, has created a campaign called 'Above the Influence' to educate the public on minors using illegal substances. According to Above the Influence, each year approximately 5,000 people under the age of 21 die as a result of underage drinking. This includes roughly 1,900 deaths from car accidents, 1,600 homicides, 300 suicides, and hunderds of other deaths due to accidents like falls, burns, and drownings.

Stressed? Have some problems? Do not take it out in ways that can get you in more trouble. Drinking and doing drugs could only cause more problems if parents find out, or even the police. Be responsible and make the right decisions -- because substance abuse can negatively affect you in the long run.