Non-drinker: Felicia Cheng, female, 17, Mt. Carmel High School
What are your reasons for not drinking? "When I first started high school, I made a conscious decision to refrain from drinking and doing drugs."
Do your friends drink?
"My friends and I keep each other accountable, which means no drinking. We try to stay away from places where drugs or alcohol are present. However, sometimes situations arise unexpectedly and we have to make a decision. For example, the summer before my sophomore year, I was offered a drink by a senior. I quickly gave him a firm 'no' and simply explained that I wasn't the kind of girl who drinks."
Do you go to parties where people drink? "I do not attend parties or social places where people drink."
What are your thoughts about drinking? "Teens will often drink due to peer pressure or to feel better because of problems at home. I think that there are other ways to solve problems rather than drinking."
Did you ever learn about the effects of drinking in school? "My first experience of learning about the effects of drinking was in elementary school, when several police officers visited our campus and gave D.A.R.E. lessons."
Do you have family members who drink regularly? "Fortunately, I don't have family members that drink regularly. My family believes that drinking isn't necessary unless you're at a special occasion such as a wedding or dinner party."
Have you ever been tempted to drink? "I have not been tempted to drink and the one time I was asked to, I declined the offer."
Drinker: Emilyn Ace (pseudonym), female, 17, Mt. Carmel High School
Do your friends drink? "A few of my friends drink. Peer pressure is involved only sometimes. However, my friends respect each other's decisions not to drink."
At what age did you start drinking and why? "I started drinking at 16. Drinks were set out on a table, and I guess my friends and I got curious."
Describe any incidents you have had while you were drunk. "I have never gotten drunk."
What kind of alcohol is your favorite and why? "I like just the ones that are fruity. It's not about getting drunk."
Where do you usually drink? "I drink at friends' houses with people I trust."
Do you make sure there is a designated driver? "I'm usually designated driver."
How often do you drink? "I don't drink often at all."
Do your parents know that you drink? "No, my parents do not know."
What's the most alcohol you've consumed in one night? "I probably consumed only a few shots. I don't like the fact that I can easily lose control of myself. Even with close friends, it isn't always safe."
Do you have family members who drink regularly? "Yes. My uncles and my dad drink regularly. It's probably a social thing, but I think they overdo it."
Did you ever learn about the effects of drinking in school? "No, I did not. No drug alcohol study has affected me. The only way I learned things was to experience it. Textbooks are just words."
How do you get alcohol? "It's usually with friends that are older. I don't ask them to buy the drinks. I just get invited."
Do you think that there is social pressure that compels people to drink? "The people that get drunk and just cave in to peer pressure are not smart enough to make their own decisions. Peer pressure is one thing, but no one is shoving a drink down your throat. You have to do it yourself."
Non-drinker: Chris Araiza, male, 17, Scripps Ranch High School
What are your reasons for not drinking? "The first reason is that it is against my religion. The second reason is that it kills your body, has too many carbohydrates.... Other reasons are that I think it's just stupid and that I can have just as good of a time without drinking than getting drunk. Yes, this was my decision only, and I make it every day.... I get support from some and ridiculed by others."
Do your friends drink? "Some of my friends do drink, but I am never around them when they do. I've been offered a drink once or twice and turned it down by telling them it's against my religion and that I don't want it destroying my body."
Describe any encounters you've had with people who were drunk. "I haven't had any personal encounters with any drunken people, personally, but my dad dealt with one on the freeway after [the drunk driver] had hit a car and pulled over. She was really woozy and kept trying to pee to lower her blood-alcohol level, I'm guessing."
Do you go to parties where people drink? "I have been to only a few places where people drink, and I am always the designated driver."
Did you ever learn about the effects of drinking in school? "Yes, I did, but seeing as I had my mind made up before the matter was discussed, it had no effect on me."
Do you have family members who drink regularly? "My immediate family doesn't drink, but others in my family that are not in the Christian life do drink regularly."
Have you ever been tempted to drink?
"Yes, I have. At my uncle's wedding reception, I was given a can of beer. I was about to open it and give it a try, but then I decided not to." -- Vivian Pham, Mt. Carmel H.S.