Wine Coolers: The Uncool Coolers
Alcohol is alcohol. Wine coolers taste sweet and syrupy because they are made of fruit juice and sugar. But unlike fruit juice or soft drinks, they also contain enough wine to give them the same amount of alcohol as a can of beer. Wine coolers also have more than double the calories of most light beers. Wine coolers are a product of the 1980s. They were invented by two California businessmen who thought there might be a big market for “an alcoholic soft drink.” In 1985 they sold their business to a large liquor manufacturer for $143 million. Today wine coolers are bigger business than ever with sales consistently topping $1 billion. Now the five major cooler manufacturers will do almost anything to get more people to drink their products. They spend between $25-30 million per year on advertising. They aim their ads at the generation that have been brought up on the sweet, fizzy taste of pop – pepsi, coca cola, kool-aid etc. Though no one knows how many teens and adults are drinking wine coolers, the product has made an impact. Kids see the ads on TV and they think they will be liked if they drink them. “Wine coolers are kind-a like soda pop so kids drink it because they can stand the taste much better than beer,” says a 17 year old girl. But the taste and image can’t disguise the fact that wine coolers contain lots of alcohol.
The Problem with Alcohol
Like their adult role models, teens drink for difference reasons:
- To fit in
- To feel grown-up
- To be able to let loose
- To make themselves feel better
- To find out what drinking is all about
- To be defiant
About 30% of boys and 22% of girls classify themselves as “drinkers” by the age of 13. According to the Office of Substance Abuse Prevention, millions of teens have an alcohol problem. One spokesperson says “they think it’s cool to drink.”
Unfortunately most people don’t realize how dangerous alcohol can be. The central nervous system, which includes the brain, is the first part of the body to feel the effects of alcohol. When it first reaches the brain, it slows brain cell activity, making the drinker feel more relaxed and uninhibited. But as more alcohol reaches the brain, the drinker becomes clumsy, his or her speech slurs, and the drinker may experience numbness, blurred vision, dizziness, poor motor control, and loss of balance and coordination. Alcohol, when consumed in large quantities, can even act as an anesthetic, causing unconsciousness and even death. Unlike food, fruit juice or soda pop, alcohol is not digested. It is absorbed directly into the blood-stream and carried immediately throughout the body. So when people drink beer, wine or liquor they feel the effects all over their bodies. Too much drinking may lead to malnutrition, lower resistance to infection and increased risk of cancers of the mouth, throat and liver.
Because a young person’s body is still growing and developing, scientists believe that the effects of alcohol can be more serious for a child or teenager than for an adult. Young drinkers also may become dependent on alcohol much more quickly than adults – even if they drink only wine coolers.
Why Coolers Aren’t
Alcohol has been called a “gateway” drug because it can lead people to use other, harder drugs. Wine coolers should be considered a gateway drink because their sweet taste and snappy packaging make them acceptable to people who aren’t used to drinking. Advertising is deceitful and tells people –
“cool people drink wine coolers so join the crowd”
“you’ll be popular if you buy this”
“if you drink wine coolers like this or that famous movie star or celebrity, it must be good”
“this wine cooler will give you charm, wit, beauty and elegance like this picture”
The key is – not to buy any of these. The advertisers don’t have your well-being in mind; they don’t care whether they make you popular, attractive or cool. They just want your money.
The alcohol in wine coolers is a drug that can hurt your mind, body and relationships. Drinking them does not guarantee you anything other than bad breath. And you can be cool or famous without drinking.
One famous family music group says: “We rehearse and perform a lot. It’s hard work, so we have to be physically fit. Our minds have to be free from alcohol, tobacco and other drugs for us to do our best. Besides we have to work together as a group. Alcohol won’t help us do that.”
When it comes to wine coolers: BE SMART, DON’T START – JUST SAY NO.
Condensed from “Wine Coolers: The Uncool Coolers” – The Drug Facts Series.