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Thread: Why teens drink and do drugs

  1. #1
         
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    Why teens drink and do drugs

    Many people will often point out that the worst drug problems are in America's Suburbs, not the inner city projects, and that the area's with the worst underage drinking problems are often affluent suburbs and small cities as well. Some people say it's because these teens have more money to spend on the drugs and so pay more, so it inflates the apparent number of drugs sold. Others point out that inner city cops don't have time to bust underage drinking and small time druggies because of the far more important and dangerous crimes going on around them.
    I think however there is a much simpler and easier to fix problem that causes this. It's the lack of anything to do after 7:00 in residential neighborhoods or even in some higher density mixed use ones unless you're over 21.
    I live in a fairly affluent, somewhat racially mixed, very community oriented and neighborly area on the southside of Chicago. Low Crime, good schools, everyone knows everyone, all that jazz. But there is amazingly little to do. And the area, Beverly Hills, is fairly dense, maybe 8-10 houses per acre and several commercial streets so plenty that could support a night life. However we have 2 restaurants that could be considered Zaggat worthy, a few bars that could be counted on one hand (and only exist on one side of the main street because the other side is a dry zip code). There is a handful of franchises that fit in pretty good. One of the top selling Border's in the country, Panera Bread, Quizno's and what not, but there is only one place that services the under 21 crowd that is open after 8, and that has now reduced it's hours to close at 11 and 12 on weekdays and ends respectivly. This should explain when the Beverly police district (22) has one of the highest incidences of underage drinking IN THE COUNTRY.
    There is a commuter train that goes express suburbs to downtown with this being the last stop before downtown, but the last one leaves downtown at 12:05. We could drive to the Northside but that's inconvienent in so many ways. If we take public transportation via the CTA it means dangerous neighborhoods and several transfers.
    All there is to do it get your older sibling to buy you beer or talk to that shady guy in the park for some pot and sit holed up in a basement, or in the middle of a park that closes at 11:00 anyway so the cops will come. We have no true Cafe's and local bands play maybe once or twice a month within walking distancem usually at churches.
    I know many suburbs are in essentially the same situation, if not worse because kids have to drive EVERYWHERE.
    Now I have to say what would some of you say about how to fix this problem, using Beverly as an example. People are afraid of too much nightlife or restaurants bringing undesirables from outside both as workers or patrons (we have only a few appartments). So what say you cyburbians? How do you save Beverly Hills?

    Moderator note:
    Thread moved to FAC, as it didn't really seem appropriate for Cities and Places. --nerudite
    Last edited by nerudite; 21 Jul 2006 at 1:54 PM.

  2. #2
    Cyburbian hilldweller's avatar
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    I tend to think that underage kids would still do drugs and drink heavily despite other opportunities for recreation/social outlets. Popular culture presents heavy drinking and recreational drug use as a part of growing up. I bet a lot of kids think they're not cool unless they're guzzling beer and partying, I know I thought like this when I was a teen.

  3. #3
    Cyburbian cch's avatar
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    I'll get out my tiny violin, Burnham. Imagine growing up in Iowa. When I was younger we had two movie screens to choose from, virtually no restaurants I could go to with my friends (until we turned 16 and could drive), and I mostly spent all my time riding my bike around, reading or renting movies with friends. Even now, there are only about 3 bars for the college crowd to go to when they are in town. If I were to move to the south side of chicago, as a teen, I would have been overwhelmed by all there is to do. I'm not complaining, cause it was really a great, family oriented community to grow up in. But of course there is a lot of underage drinking, and some drug use and teen pregnancy. But you get that everywhere. Kids partake in risky, peer-driven behavior even when they grow up in the most happening neighborhoods.

  4. #4
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    My older brother was a teen in the late 1950's and early 1960's.....the crowd he ran with did not do drugs, but alcohol was a common theme. In Ohio (back then) you could buy less % content beer (3.2) at age eighteen. I know he was drinking well before that.

    This Bear was a teen in the mid-1960's. Later in the decade many friends started down the drug route, but I never was in to that. I had enough fun (and trouble) with devil alcohol.

    My brother's age group had cars (cruising), drive-in restaurants, drive-in theaters, "sock hops" on Friday nights, and kids gathered together at parks and "lover's lanes" (doing the things that kids do). Opportunities for youth basketball and hockey (during colder months) was limited, but many kids did play baseball. Shopping centers were just becoming popular and the mall craze had not yet hit northwestern Ohio. Going to downtown Toledo was still a big adventure for groups of teens.....the central business district was filled with large multi-story departmetn stores and many theaters.

    My age group (5 years younger than big bro) had cars (cruising), drive-in restaurants, drive-in theaters. "Sock hops" were becoming few and far between so we went to the parks and "lover's lanes" a lot. Still few opportunities for youth basketball or hockey but a lot of our group played baseball.....often up to sundown. Shopping Centers and MacDonald's-type drive-in restaurants came into favor during my teen years. Malls did not enter the scene until I was well into my twenties. Downtown Toledo was starting its' death march during my teens as the large department stores started to close and the theaters died-off.

    This is what teens did in the 1950's and 1960's.

    Bear
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  5. #5
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    If the kids are growing up in BH then they should have access to cars so they can drive to Santa Monica and drink on the beach unless you are talking about 11 to 15 year olds.. The BH police are known for being very professional and very by the book and it sounds like they are also very bored ( not a lot of crime in BH) so they bust kids drinkin mad dog.

    It does not matter where kids grow up, kids are going to drink and do drugs, our parents did it, we did it and our children will do it. Most of the people I knew in HS and college had at least one of the following: MIP ( Minor in Possession), Public Urnination, Public Intoxication or lewd and distruptive behavior. I was in the minority but could have easily recieved a ticket for all the above.

    You hate to say its kids being kids but that is what it is, Hilldweller is right no amount of activities will stop this...these kids live in LA...if you can't find something to do there then you can't find it anywhere.
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  6. #6
    Unfrozen Caveman Planner mendelman's avatar
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    Off-topic:
    Quote Originally posted by Brocktoon
    If the kids are growing up in BH then they should have access to cars so they can drive to Santa Monica...these kids live in LA...if you can't find something to do there then you can't find it anywhere.
    Actually...bf is referring to the Beverly Hills (or simply Beverly) neighborhood of Chicago. It's on the southwest side, basically at 95th & Western.

    I think that kids/teenagers will drink and do drugs no matter where they are. The main reason that there aren't more hangouts for the 16-20 yr-old crowd is that many business owners have a knee-jerk dislike (sometimes not unfounded) for this age group and more prone to disruption and not able to pay sufficiently for serivces. It is more profitable to be a bar and sell alchohol to the over-21 crowd.

    I'm glad I'm not in that age group anymore.
    I'm sorry. Is my bias showing?

    The ends can justify the means.

  7. #7
    Super Moderator kjel's avatar
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    I graduated from high school in '92. I didn't spend any time drinking (apart from a beer here and there with my mom at a cook out) and never did drugs. I was kept busy with extra-curricular activities, a large homework load, and a tight curfew which was strictly enforced. After I graduated and moved out of my mom's house I drank occasionally and tried pot a few times but neither really held much interest for me.

    Now my daughter is getting ready to turn 13 and I think the drinking and drug experimentation has shifted to a younger segment than even 15 years ago. My tactic has been to be open about drinking and drugs, keeping her busy and involved in activities, instilling a love of learning, and talking about her future goals. She goes out occasionally with a group of friends to the movies or the mall, but that's it. I think the biggest challenge is keeping a balance and not to be too overbearing which would push her to rebellion.
    "He defended the cause of the poor and needy, and so all went well. Is that not what it means to know me?" Jeremiah 22:16

  8. #8
    Cyburbian Brocktoon's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by mendelman
    Off-topic:

    Actually...bf is referring to the Beverly Hills (or simply Beverly) neighborhood of Chicago. It's on the southwest side, basically at 95th & Western.

    .
    My Bad
    "If you don't like change, you're going to like irrelevance even less" General Eric Shinseki

  9. #9
    Cyburbian
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    When I was a teen.... not that long ago... I didn't do drugs and I didn't drink that much either... I guess it was because my parents never prohibited me drinking alcohol, and would let me try it in moderate doses... so it wasn't a new experience or was impelled to rebel... and well I did smoke when I was a teen but not that much and just for peer pressure... and I didn't like it so I didn't do it anymore... End of story. Do I feel the need to experiment with other drugs? No, not at all.

    And well maybe you could classify the internet as a drug... but then we're all addicts

  10. #10
    Cyburbian Rumpy Tunanator's avatar
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    Why teens drink and do drugs

    Because they've seen zmanPLAN's mom......



















    Just kidding buddy, step away from the edge of the bridge
    A guy once told me, "Do not have any attachments, do not have anything in your life you are not willing to walk out on in 30 seconds flat if you spot the heat around the corner."


    Neil McCauley (Robert DeNiro): Heat 1995

  11. #11
    Cyburbian zman's avatar
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    Rumpy, you're costing me TOO MUCH money in therapy sessions... Jerk...
    You get all squeezed up inside/Like the days were carved in stone/You get all wired up inside/And it's bad to be alone

    You can go out, you can take a ride/And when you get out on your own/You get all smoothed out inside/And it's good to be alone
    -Peart

  12. #12
    Cyburbian Emeritus Bear Up North's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by zmanPLAN
    Rumpy, you're costing me TOO MUCH money in therapy sessions... Jerk...
    OK, I need therapy now.....picturing Rumpy as the kid in "Stacy's Mom (Has It Going On)".



    Bear
    Occupy Cyburbia!

  13. #13
    Cyburbian wahday's avatar
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    I certainly did my share of drinking and drugs during my teens. And I wasn't even a "bad" kid (my motto being don't hurt anyone else, don't hurt yourself, and don't get caught). I have a theory about all of this, though, which is entirely untested and based on conjecture and hearsay.

    Teens, I think, need a place to be within the civic sphere that is actually their own. It seems to me that a great many public places go to great lengths to prevent teenagers from being there - no skateboarding, the store owner shooing away loitering kids, etc. These are young people figuring out how to be adults and in order to do that, they need a space that they "own" in order to work that out. Pushing them out of the public eye ('cause you don't want to stare at that young man's boxer's all afternoon) pushes them into the darker shadows of the world where their behavior is not as monitored. So, in the absence of a physical space, teens may seek an emotional or mental space that they can claim as their own (ie. getting high or drunk).

    I have seen some really exciting teen projects that involve young people (and often these projects target "troubled" kids) in things like public art or creating a teens council to put on music, film, etc. events for their peers. The common theme being providing opportunities for teens to take charge of something (whether a physical or metaphorical "space") that they control and manage.

    Where I work, we have something called the Arts Summer Institute in which we actually pay kids as a summer job to work with lead artists in the conmstruction of public tile murals. We are slowly covering the entire convention center and are on the verge of creating the country's largest tile mural.

    Here is a link to the Walker Art Center's Teen Arts Council:
    http://www.wallacefoundation.org/WF/...erTeenArts.htm

    The Village of Arts and Humanities in Philadelphia has created a whole curriculum of activities geared toward engaging young people in the creation of spaces (especially the reclamation of vacant lots), along with classes on nutrition (including urban farming), and much more. In these sscenarios, they become involved in the process of creating a space of their own - there are parks and public spaces throughout the area that are created by and for local teens.

    As for the rich and middle class kids, I wonder if a general lack of responsibility doesn't factor into things as well. at my age, I can't even figure out how I ever had time to get drunk or high without screwing up some obligation - too much free time.
    The purpose of life is a life of purpose

  14. #14
         
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    Quote Originally posted by cch
    I'll get out my tiny violin, Burnham. Imagine growing up in Iowa. When I was younger we had two movie screens to choose from, virtually no restaurants I could go to with my friends (until we turned 16 and could drive), and I mostly spent all my time riding my bike around, reading or renting movies with friends. Even now, there are only about 3 bars for the college crowd to go to when they are in town. If I were to move to the south side of chicago, as a teen, I would have been overwhelmed by all there is to do. I'm not complaining, cause it was really a great, family oriented community to grow up in. But of course there is a lot of underage drinking, and some drug use and teen pregnancy. But you get that everywhere. Kids partake in risky, peer-driven behavior even when they grow up in the most happening neighborhoods.
    well the nearest movie theatre is 6.5 miles away, and public transit is expensive. I'm of the opinion we shouldn't need a car, but even if we do, most kids in this area employ themselves to pay for gas money, money that also has to pay for school. For an affluent, 'white', pop-culture crazed neighborhood of teens, we don't even have any basic retail clothing stores within biking, let alone walking distance. Even driving to the mall is a trip that requires a considerable chunk of the day.

  15. #15
    Member Wulf9's avatar
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    I think there are two factors at play.

    First, and one planners can address, is the lack of "neighborhoods." Prior to 1960, most kids grew up in a neighborhood with elementary school, library, parks, grocery stores, and several necessary services within walking distance. Also, most of these could be reached without having to cross an arterial street. Kids thought there was nothing to do, just like now, but you could always go somewhere and do something. With the larger trade areas for all services (corporate decisions -- not the fault of zoning), kids can't walk or bike to school, a park, the grocery store, the barber, the drugstore with their neighboring kids without an adult to ferry them about.

    Second, and one planners cannot address, is that there used to be a series of intermediate taboos that are no longer present. Things like when you could wear certain styles of clothes or certain types of makeup or stay out past 8 then 9 then 10. Kids used to focus on breaking those taboos. The heavy taboos like drugs or serious drinking were not on their radar screen until they got pretty old. And by the time they got there, they had learned a bit of self discipline related to the lesser taboos.

  16. #16
    Cyburbian
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    wasted in the burbs

    growing up in the suburbs of montreal (roxboro), smoking pot and drinking became normal in grade 11 (17 year olds, of course, its thrilling before you're legal).

    there were no less than 6 identifiable pot grow-ops in my neighbourhood, and pot was the only drug available, good quality and cheap too. $150 US an ounce.

    there was no shop to buy beer, so we would bike to a public housing area where the shops just didnt care.

    living beside the river, there were plenty of well planned nature areas and parks which are just too convenient for campfires and stoner sessions.

  17. #17
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    my parents were hippies and pretty lenient about drinking and drug use. their main concern was me being safe and making good decisions. most of the time i did, every now and then i didn't and i still thank the guardian angel that must've been looking out for me on those occasions.

    i spent one summer smoking pot but really didn't drink until college. i think it definitely had to do with my parents' attitude. plus the fact that i could have just as much fun sober as drunk and it was much cheaper and i felt a lot better the next day when i didn't drink. i still feel that way.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  18. #18
    Cyburbian btrage's avatar
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    Drinkng alcohold and taking drugs has nothing to do with the availability of things to do. I drank a lot during my late teens/early 20s, but stayed away from a lot of the drugs that my friends were doing. Why was that? Perhaps becuase it has become socially acceptable for teens to drink. It has nothing to do with the built environment. Old Dad shrugs it off when little Johnny comes home with a buzz from the sixer he just downed. That's the problem.
    "I'm very important. I have many leather-bound books and my apartment smells of rich mahogany"

  19. #19
    Cyburbian dandy_warhol's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by btrage
    Perhaps becuase it has become socially acceptable for teens to drink. It has nothing to do with the built environment. Old Dad shrugs it off when little Johnny comes home with a buzz from the sixer he just downed. That's the problem.
    i agree! in high school some of my friends would party and drink with one set of the parents. talk about inappropriate.
    In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends. -Martin Luther King Jr.

  20. #20
    Cyburbian Zoning Goddess's avatar
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    We all know there is no easy answer. Some kids have more freedom and give drugs/alcohol a try, some have no interest in it. Some kids are naturally rebellious and some aren't. I don't know that it has anything to do with what activities are available. If anything, today's kids tend to be "overscheduled", at least through middle school.

    With the younger teenagers, I think they want to be able to hang with their friends without mom and dad too close. That can be at a community center, a mall, the movies, a park, or virtually via the computer or cell phones. Kids today, in general, have a lot more options to connect with their friends. Of course, we are somewhat constrained by the visibility of sex predators and trying to protect our kids.

    Lots of kids have grown up, and continue to do so, in areas where there is little to do, and they turn out fine. I think it's really the kid's personality coming into play, as to whether they'll go for drugs/alcohol or not. Or peer pressure, or the era (me as a teenager in the '70's, pot was everywhere!).

  21. #21
    Cyburbian Richmond Jake's avatar
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    The lure of the illicit.

    My first intoxication occurred before an eight grade dance (oh, silly Liz Hille; last I remember was the chaperones pulling us apart )—at a time when most of you weren’t even a glean in your father’s eye.
    Annoyingly insensitive

  22. #22
    Cyburbian Tide's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by burnham follower
    Many people will often point out that the worst drug problems are in America's Suburbs, not the inner city projects, and that the area's with the worst underage drinking problems are often affluent suburbs and small cities as well. Some people say it's because these teens have more money to spend on the drugs and so pay more, so it inflates the apparent number of drugs sold.

    I think however there is a much simpler and easier to fix problem that causes this. It's the lack of anything to do after 7:00 in residential neighborhoods or even in some higher density mixed use ones unless you're over 21.
    I have to agree with these two points, but I would expand on the fact that there is money, not merely inflating the price, but some affluent suburban kids just have money burning a hole in their pocket. They have become easily bored with play statio, tv, and their inground pool, and since many of them aspire or mimic what is on TV and the 'glamorous' drug lifestyle that is sometimes portrayed. I know of a suburban town near me with a surprising high drug and drinking problem. Many parents aren't home because they both work and one usually works in NYC. This is the second part to the problem, the parents aren't in the picture. Boredome + peer presure + money to blow = often times deviant behaviour. I blame the parents in this case.
    @GigCityPlanner

  23. #23
         
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    I grew up in an area where there were tons of things to do: parks, camping, bowling, movies, hang out in parking lots, plazas with arcades, etc. There was a MILLION things for us to do as teens...guess what? We got ALL screwed up THEN went and did those things. We weren't bad kids, yes there are times I look back and say OMG what was I thinking? I am lucky I am not dead. BUT its not a matter of location. The more things there are to do, the more places/people there are to find drugs or someone to buy your alcohol.
    IMO, its the culture, not the physical environment. My parents were pretty strict, I always had a curfew and made it home by whatever it was, it only takes a few hours to do anything we were doing. I have noticed with my oldest son (only 8) that they already talk about drugs at school and the DARE program is apparently a pretty big success. I keep my boys busy with me right now. As they get older? Well, all I can do is talk to them, make them feel safe/trust with me to always be honest and call me if they are in trouble.
    Its what we do at home, what they learn in school, what they learn from their peers and thier own personal choice, they are people. I don't think it has anything to do with where they live or what services are provided to them.

  24. #24
    Growing up in a very rural county in Vermont meant there was less than nothing to do. There was no such thing as public transportation - hell, my hometown still doesn't have pizza delivery! The sidewalks got rolled up at 5:00 PM, and when the late bus from the high school dropped you off in the center of town, most kids had to be collected because they lived more than a mile from that point. Of course that doesn't mean that kids didn't drink or use drugs. I recall a loose group of kids who partied on the weekends, but I was always horrified by the stories afterwards.
    We did have a state college in our town so perhaps drugs more severe than pot were available. I certainly didn't know how to get them nor was I interested. For the most part it was alcohol and pot which were around during my high school years, the former because Vermont still had an 18 year old drinking age (til 1986) and the latter because many grew it themselves. Homegrown was not unusual. I didn't even try pot until I was almost 18, and I was allowed to drink at home. No mystery there.

    I guess the question I have is thus - why do kids feel they have to have all kinds of activities to amuse them and keep them occupied? I realize kids need time to hang out with their peers, and I did too, but whatever happened to having chores and responsibilities?
    Last edited by BeansandCod; 26 Jul 2006 at 10:05 AM.

  25. #25
          Downtown's avatar
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    Quote Originally posted by kjelsadek
    I graduated from high school in '92. I didn't spend any time drinking (apart from a beer here and there with my mom at a cook out) and never did drugs. I was kept busy with extra-curricular activities, a large homework load, and a tight curfew which was strictly enforced.
    I could have written this word for word, except i graduated in 93 and my mom would rather be dragged naked through the public square by a herd of wild horses than let me have a beer at a cook out.

    I hung out with a group of really nice kids. we went bowling in the next town over, played a lot of mini-golf, went to movies, hung out at each other's houses (always with parents present) and played scattergories and made claymation videos. we were dorks, but we were happy dorks.

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