Congratulations, America. Our teens are now number one in the developed world for a litany of dangerous behaviors like binge drinking and drug-taking, and are much more likely to face violent deaths than their peers in Europe (but on the plus side, they're also the best exercisers).
While my colleagues on the left are likely to cry, "Guns! It's the guns! Ban them NOW!" or something equally asinine, I wager that really, it's big government policies that have put us in this predicament.
It's not a hard trail to follow...
Vis-à-vis the drinking-- this is obviously the result of harsh drinking laws that hound our youth until a staggering 21 years of age. As a recent graduate, I can tell you that people take rapid-fire shots before going out because they won't be able to buy drinks once they get to the bar or club. There is a clear cause and effect here. People are not stupid; they know that they are at risk of liver failure (and excessive hazing) by taking 5 shots in five minutes, but it's either that or staying at home (you don't want to go to a club sober. No fun in that).
As for drugs, there is a similar motivation. People want to do things that are somehow "forbidden." Do you ever crave broccoli as bad as you do ice cream or chocolate? No, you don't. That's because you can have broccoli whenever you want, but sweets are often off-limits. But more than that, when do many people first try drugs? When they're drunk at a party. And why are they incoherently drunk at parties? Because they can't drink like rational rational human beings, because the government has arbitrarily determined that they cannot participate in happy hour until they are 21.
However, while we rank #1 for drug and alcohol abuse, we also come in at No. 1 for exercising (Michelle Obama beaming wildly). This is, obviously, not a bad thing. Exercise is good for the body, and good for the mind. However, I would wager this just reinforces how misplaced our government's priorities are. They spend millions of dollars on fitness programs/incentives, etc., all the while forcing the youth to destroy their health with binge drinking and drugs (if not forcing, certainly incentivizing).
Liberal policies often have good intentions. If we make the drinking age 21, maybe there will be no more alcoholics. If we ban drugs, there will be no more addicts. If we ban guns, there will be no violence.
Unfortunately, such individuals fail to remember that human beings are independent actors, and will figure out a way to do drink, smoke, and commit acts of violence. The only thing such policies do is make the situation worse by creating a scenario where people must binge drink, smoke shady drugs, and defend themselves against someone with a gun un-armed (since law-abiding individuals will obey the gun bans).
The solution? Obvious. Government needs to pare-down, and let people make their own decisions. Nine times out of ten, they'll make the right one.