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Teenage Drunk Driving Issue Analysis Essay

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Updated: Sep 2nd, 2021

Teenage drunk driving has been so common these days that according to a report, every year in the U.S. 12.8% of all traffic accidents are due to alcohol and 40% of those accidents are due to teenage drunk drivers. (Alcohol Alert) Alcohol is one of the major causes of highway deaths and injuries, accounting for about half of all annual motor vehicle fatalities. Therefore there is a need to analyze the relationship between drinking and driving and when it comes to teenagers, injuries take the form of fatal accidents. This essay would highlight on all the possible solutions and measures than can be taken in order to avoid teenage drunk driving.

Many solutions to a problem

Teenagers’ awareness

Teenagers must be taught awareness of alcohol-related injury and misuse. While there is no question of the importance of individual differences and personal drinking behaviour, children must be aware of the alcoholic beverages and their social consequences in modern society. (Boyd & Howard, 1995, p. 134) Teenagers must be aware of the perils of ‘drunk driving’ even at the sub conscious level.

Reducing Alcohol availability

Alcohol consumption among teenagers could be easily reduced by reducing alcohol availability or to make the prices too high for the teenagers to purchase.

Parental Control/ Restriction

One solution is to simply control teenage drinking by keeping a strict eye on the school’s social environment of the teenager. (Presley & Pimentel, 2006) However parents must take into account that behaviors such as alcohol consumption, drug use and drinking are the initial steps towards delinquency. Therefore children must be stopped at the initial level before it gets too late for their experience of drunk driving. It is through the frequent use of alcohol consumption that teenagers become sexually active and begin driving. This problem also leads teenagers to stop thinking about further studies, therefore they decide to drop out or stay in school. Therefore parental control is necessary in order to prevent teenagers from drinking abuse.

Solving teenagers sociological problems

There is a need to view and analyze the idealized, sentimentalized vision of childhood spread beyond its initial focus in family life. (Joel, 1994, p. 6) Reformers must begin to draw attention to problems faced by teenagers in the larger society. All the problems that previously had been ignored must be given adequate consideration. Therefore another solution of preventing children from drunk driving is to dig deep the various sociological concerns and reasons behind, thereby understanding the root and cause of their social issues. For example parents may give extra attention to their children, listen to their problems closely and suggest the best solutions for their problems, thereby not ignoring even their minor concerns. This would provide them with confidence to face challenges of the world and they would not like indulging in drinking escorting to drunk driving. Among various problems that escort children towards drunk driving are child abuses, juvenile delinquency, childhood poverty, loneliness, psychological disorders and other social problems of childhood.

Psychological Intervention

Many of the major advances in the treatment of drunk driving have come in the form of psychological interventions. The reason is simple; drinking and driving are two individual tasks, but as soon as they associate, the consequences become disastrous not only for those teenagers who drive for fun but also for the pedestrians or for those who lost their lives. However for teenagers psychological intervention like motivational interviewing is useful. Some interventions are delivered individually but others are delivered better in groups (where teenager drinkers are present). Clinical solution must be provided to the teenager. Holistic approaches, chronological factors and behaviors must be taken into consideration.

Legislative action

One solution is to take legislative action against the teenagers. Since most drunk drivers are not even adults therefore there is a need to pass a legislative action in which children aged between 13 and 19 could be punished. This punishment would be followed with a heavy fine and a couple of week’s jail. Session court around the country must take strict actions in order to alleviate this evil act. This would not only discourage children from drunk driving, it would teach them a lesson not even to drink.

License Suspension

The teenager drunk drivers if found guilty by the traffic police must be punished for traffic violation in accordance with the legislation and must not be able to retain their licenses and continue to drive until their licenses revoke as part of the sentence imposed after conviction, a process that could take months or even a year or more. Perhaps in this way drunk, society might be able to produce lesser drunk drivers.

A single Solution – Psychological Intervention

The reason for choosing this solution as a problem to ‘drunk driving’ is that the way ‘psychological intervention’ is linked with all other solutions; it includes many other solutions penetrated in a single solution. Since the relationship between alcohol use and accidents make it difficult to isolate a single and specific causality. Therefore psychological intervention involves multiple systems which include: the individual; the treating agencies; the peer group; the family; the local community; and society at large (including the legal context of the individual and his/her alcohol misuse).


Most teenage drunk drivers, find this a difficult situation to be assessed by the psychologist and for those who are followed by access, misuse or dependence on alcohol, the patient is likely to be very anxious indeed. In this case it is helpful for the clinician to assess patient’s attitude and check whether he possess a positive or a negative approach towards his interests. This should be the first step in assessing his views towards studies, sports and other creative hobbies he might have. This assessment would enable the clinician about whether he is an easy patient or a difficult one to handle. In case the patient founds to be negative approached, clinician’s first attempt must be towards correcting his way of life.

For many teenagers, and especially those who are in a continuous habit of driving while drunk, the assessment procedure itself may be a therapeutic process. They are supposed to tell their ‘history’; how they got used to alcohol, what were the reasons for drinking; why were they motivated etc. This also helps the teenager, perhaps for the first time, to see his/her drunken driving problem in some sort of perspective. In the coming paragraphs by ‘patient’, I mean ‘teenager drunk drivers’.

Clinician must determine to what extent the patient is willing to cooperate in order to alleviate his habit of drunk driving. Alcohol dependence is associated with pharmacological substitution, many young patients’ might be frightened with clinician’s approach of treating their ‘alcohol’ consumption. (Bean & Nemitz, 2004, p. 35) in the initial treatment phase, patient must be discovered in detail about his likes, dislikes, his past, any abuse he experienced and all the bad experiences he had either at home or during his studies in school. Psychological assessment includes mental illness, social problems and educational problems or characteristics (Crum et al, 2006).

Alcohol Withdrawal

The purely psychological formulation of dependence takes account of a patient’s withdrawal symptoms in accordance with his/her drinking habits, and the time the patient spends drinking while driving. In practice, drinking often becomes continuous, as if to recapture an alcohol effect. (Heather & Stockwell, 2004, p. 39) Therefore the best solution for the clinical psychologist is to make the young patient realize about the deterioration drunk driving upholds. In this case indirect telling is beneficial than to directly educate the patient. Indirect counselling involves case studies description put before the patient so that he could read and learn lesson. In this case clinician should make sure to list out only those cases in which because of drunk drivers innocent people lost their lives. While determining the nature of the patient, the clinician could utilize and make the most of this opportunity to educate his patient about the consequences aftermath. This would make the patient realize seriously about his bad habit and then he would think about quitting alcohol.

Brief Intervention with Motivational Interviewing

Brief interventions include few minute sessions that enable patients to recognize their problem extent, commitment to change, reduced alcohol consumption and brief skills training. Young patients who are subjected to high alcohol consumption while driving, but who are not necessarily alcohol-dependent, are the primary targets for brief interventions. Through these approaches the clinician would provide feedback, encouraging client responsibility for change, offer advice, provide a menu of alternatives and use an empathic approach while reinforcing the patient.

Treating teenagers drinking with Models of Addictive Behaviours

After assessing the patient’s history and alcohol subjectivity, these four models are used for their behavioral analysis. The moral model, in which the person would be held responsible for both acquiring and changing his/her alcohol problem; the disease or medical model, where a person is held responsible for neither the acquisition nor the change of his/her alcohol problem; the spiritual or enlightenment model, where he would be held responsible for the development of his/her alcohol problem but is not responsible for changing it; and finally, the compensatory model, where a person is not held responsible for the development of his/her alcohol problem but is seen as responsible for changing their problem and considered capable of doing so. (Fiegelman, 1990, p. 43)

Cognitive Behavioural Alcohol Treatment

According to the first principle of cognitive-behavioural alcohol treatment, excessive drinking characteristic of alcohol abuse and dependence disorders is conceptualized as a set of socially learned behaviours with multiple determinants. These determinants include genetic factors, learning from school or friends, situational antecedents, cognitive processes and immediate positive and delayed negative consequences. This treatment approach focuses on: (a) situational antecedents of excessive drinking, such as time of day, place, people, activities; (b) internal states, such as anxiety, depression or other unpleasant emotions or painful sensations that may increase the likelihood of excessive drinking; (c) cognitive processes, such as expectancies about the rewarding effects of alcohol and attributions infusing alcohol with the power of a magic elixir to transform moods; and (d) the reinforcing consequences that serve to maintain drinking behaviour (Heather & Stockwell, 2004, p. 73).

In addition to having biological and socio-cultural causes and consequences, addictive behaviors, such the excessive drinking characteristic of alcohol abuse or dependence, particularly while driving are temporarily effective, yet ultimately maladaptive, coping mechanisms. Clinicians must expect that after a cognitive-behavioral alcohol treatment therapy, alcoholism as a habit change process would gradually replace addictive behaviors of patients with new and more adaptive coping skills. Since the overall goal of cognitive-behavioral approach to treatment is to help patient meeting life’s demands without resorting to the excessive use of alcohol and its associated problems, but here as the patient is a teenager the therapy would be successful if he quits alcoholism.

Stages of Change

Effective cognitive-behavioral alcohol treatment requires that both therapist and patient understand the stages that occur when one acquires an abusive or dependent pattern of drinking and the stages that occur when drinking behavior changes to a moderate level of consumption or is eliminated entirely. In case where the patient is teenager, elimination is likely to occur. Cognitive-behavioral therapy is based on an empirical, developmental model of alcohol use disorders, which attempts to delineate the natural history of excessive drinking and alcohol-related problems. As therapist and patient refine this understanding, they collaborate to generate an effective treatment plan for either individual or group therapy formats (Vaillant, 1995).

It should be taken into account that adolescence is the first stage when the potential development of alcohol dependence or other alcohol-related problems begins with exposure and experimentation with alcohol, often while driving. Whether an alcohol-related problem of any type develops depends on a variety of bio-psychosocial factors including genetic vulnerability, family dynamics, peer relations, conduct problems, media depictions of drinking, or access to alcohol occasionally, it must be alleviated at the ground root level. Most individuals who drink while driving experience occasional mild to moderate alcohol-related problems followed with accidents but it is better not to ignore the first attempts when teenagers start consuming alcohol for no parents or family would want to be one of the shattered ones, who loose their children in accidents (CBS, Nov 13, 2007).

Works Cited & References

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Bean Philip & Nemitz Teresa, (2004) Drug Treatment: What Works? Routledge: New York.

Boyd M. Gayle, Howard Jan & Zucker A. Robert, (1995) Alcohol Problems among Adolescents: Current Directions in Prevention Research: Lawrence Erlbaum Associates: Hillsdale, NJ. CBS.

Crum M. Rosa, Juon Hee Soon, Green M. Kerry, Robertson Judith & Fothergill Kate, (2006) “Educational Achievement and Early School Behavior as Predictors of Alcohol-Use Disorders: 35-Year Follow-Up of the Woodlawn Study” In: Journal of Studies on Alcohol. Volume: 67. Issue: 1. p: 75

Feigelman William, (1990) Treating Teenage Drug Abuse in a Day Care Setting: Praeger Publishers: New York.

Heather Nick & Stockwell Tim, (2004) The Essential Handbook of Treatment and Prevention of Alcohol Problems: Wiley: Hoboken, NJ.

Presley A. Cheryl & Pimentel R.Edgardo, (2006) “The Introduction of the Heavy and Frequent Drinker: A Proposed Classification to Increase Accuracy of Alcohol Assessments in Postsecondary Educational Settings” In: Journal of Studies on Alcohol. Volume: 67. Issue: 2 p: 324

Robin D. Gerald, (1991) Waging the Battle against Drunk Driving: Issues, Countermeasures, and Effectiveness: Praeger Publishers: New York.

Vaillant, G.E. (1995). The Natural History of Alcoholism Revisited. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

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