Teenage drinking on the rise

Nancy Hall - Staff Writer

The number of underage drinkers in New York state is on the rise, becoming a visible part of upscale communities.
Drinking is the number one after-school activity for large numbers of teenagers in Westchester County, N.Y., according to an Oct. 27 New York Times report. Studies show that kids as young as 10 years old are getting into the drinking scene as a result of peer pressure and easy access to alcohol.
Last year, the Rye High School junior prom was plagued with drunkenness and rowdy behavior. Girls showed up after drinking large amounts of vodka, while other students passed out or grew restless.
The teens jokingly remark about the ease with which they can purchase alcohol in less upscale towns, according to the report, and state that many local delicatessens and bars accept their fake ID’s without question.
In an effort to aid their fellow students, programs have been started by neighborhood teenagers that provide drunken teens a safe way to get home. Much like a taxi service, teens can call these groups and receive a free ride with no questions asked.
Officials said they feel that the rise in the number of affluent teens who drink is due to the lack of parental involvement. They said that if parents are often away on business trips, or do not have much time to spend with their sons and daughters, this can lead to a rather stressful and lonely life for a child. As a result, the children turn to drinking as a way to cope.
A report from New York’s Office of Alcohol and Substance Abuse shows that in Westchester from July 2001 to June 2002 there were 1,096 adolescents, ranging from age 10 to 17, who received treatment for substance abuse, with 427 of these cases regarding alcohol.
Areas that are reported to be among the most troublesome include Mamaroneck, Rye, Harrison, Chappaqua, Scarsdale, Port Chester, New Rochelle, Mount Vernon and Bronxville.