Teenage Drink and Drugs


When it was revealed, three years ago, that 30 to 40 percent of minors reported drinking alcohol, the country was shocked. Now, according to a study released by Dr. Zipora Barnea of Tel Aviv University, the figure is 60 percent. Dr. Barnea’s study also reveals that six percent of school pupils have used illegal drugs in the course of the past year. And, as more and more adolescents are turning to drinking and drug abuse, the number of weekend highway tragedies grows. Clearly, Israelis must gradually give up the notion that alcoholism, drug abuse and driving “under the influence” do not and cannot happen in this country.


The marked increase in alcohol-related accidents this year has spurred the government to take drastic measures. The Knesset voted to impose stiffer penalties on bar-owners who knowingly serve alcohol to minors and has banned years of inaction, has launched a campaign of raids on pubs in search of underage drinkers. Since many Israelis and tourists still believe Israel has no age limit on drinking, adding teeth to the law forbidding sales of alcoholic beverages to minors, and widely publicizing it, would also be useful. The penalties against selling alcohol to minors should be increased until they are taken seriously, and the police must enforce the law as though it were one of national consequence.


But the experience of other countries suggests that laws are not enough. The young turn to alcohol and other harmful substances often out of ignorance of the dangers involved and because of a lack of appealing alternative activities. “I get bored, so I take drugs,” they say.


If the government is to prevent alcohol and drug abuse from becoming a problem on a scale familiar in the U.S., it must go on the offensive. It has to educate pupils and parents about the consequences of alcohol and drug abuse in the most clear-cut terms. The education Ministry took steps in this direction two years ago, setting up an educational programs unit for the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse. Last year, the unit provided a 16-hour program to 10th graders in 260 high schools. This teaches youngsters to recognize personal weaknesses which might lead to substance abuse, to understand the damage alcohol and narcotics cause, and to construct alternative activities for themselves. The unit hopes to reach parents as well. Last week, it announced publication of a booklet, “Ho to Tell if Your Child is Beginning to Use Drugs,” the first such in Israel.


Such steps are welcome, but they are modest indeed compared with the dimensions of the problem. Alcohol and drug abuse education, if it is to be effective, must be part of a continuing instruction of all pupils beginning in middle school. Combating the root cause of drinking and drug abuse is more difficult, for it means filling a void with sporting, educational and entertainment activities, which will serve as alternatives after school hours.


Israel already has 50,000 alcoholics. When the current generation of drinking teenagers comes of age, it will have many more. Only if the nation does something about it, will the nightmare of substance abuse, now plaguing much of the world, be prevented from making a home in Israel.

(Reprinted from English All Ways, originally adapted from The Jerusalem Post, Nov. 25, 1990)

Answer the following questions:

1.  In paragraph I, the author refers to a correlation between two trends. What two trends are correlated?

2.  According to paragraph I, which problem is more widespread among youth – alcohol or drug use? Quote the words from the text which gave you your answer.

3.  In lines 9-26, the author explains two main approaches to dealing with substance abuse among adolescents. What are these two approaches?

4.  The 16-hour program for the prevention of drug and alcohol abuse focuses on providing information about the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol, raising self-awareness and exploring more productive ways of using leisure time. Complete the table below by quoting the words in paragraph IV which relate to the goals of the program.

Focus of the program Words from the text

Providing information about the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol
Raising self-awareness
Using leisure time productively

5.  It has been suggested that tenth graders undergo a two-week drug and alcohol prevention program. (This is not stated in the text). According to paragraph V, will this program be successful? Justify your answer.

6.  In paragraph V, the author suggests combating the root cause of drinking and drug abuse. Cite one example of combating drinking and drug abuse mentioned in the text, which does not address a root cause.

7.  Why is the number of alcoholics mentioned in paragraph VI?

Answer Key

1.  Either drug abuse and highway tragedies/traffic accidents etc. or alcohol abuse and highway tragedies/traffic accidents or drug abuse and alcohol abuse

2.  alcohol abuse; “30 to 40 percent of minors reported using alcohol” or “now the figure is 60 percent” and “six percent of pupils have used illegal drugs”

3.  stricter law enforcement/stiffer penalties and educational programming

4.  “to understand the damage alcohol and narcotics cause”; “to recognize personal weaknesses (which might lead to substance abuse); “to construct alternative activities (for themselves)”

5.  This program will not be successful because in order for a drug and alcohol prevention program to be successful, it has to be part of continuing instruction of all pupils beginning in middle school or This program….it has to be ongoing or This program will only be successful if ….

6.  imposing stiffer penalties on bar owners who knowingly…/banning minors from driving between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m./raiding pubs in search of underage drinkers/ etc…