Archive for December, 2008

Drinking Age Enforcement

Monday, December 22nd, 2008

Research predicts that only two out of every 1,000 occasions of alcohol use by individuals younger than 21 result in arrest. Even with a five-fold increase in spending, enforcement officials would only raise the chances of catching underage drinkers 1% of the time.

[CR] Week in Review

Friday, December 19th, 2008

Happy Friday, everyone – we’re right in the middle of the holiday season, so please remember that if you choose to drink, do so responsibly and use a designated driver. Statistics from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration show that “between 2002 and 2006, nearly four fatalities out of 10 involved alcohol-impaired crashes in the last two weeks of December.” Stay safe on the roads this holiday season – here’s the latest edition of the [CR] Week in Review:

Stories this week:

Marissa Lang, a reporter with the University of Maryland’s Diamondback Online, wrote a story about the culture of consumption at Maryland and other schools. Maryland’s president, Dan Mote, has been a leader in the debate about dangerous drinking on college campuses, as the school hosted a day-long summit on the Amethyst Initiative a few weeks ago.

Marc Fisher of the Washington Post offered his solution to the D.C. City Council’s struggle to find meaningful prevention strategies for the city’s bars and restaurants: “The real solution is not to tinker with the penalties levied on bars, but to lower the drinking age to a more reasonable 18 or 19, and, at the same time, to raise the driving age to at least that level.”

In the debate about Legal Age 21, voices that challenge the conventional wisdom are vital – Eric Arnold of Forbes proposed his own unconventional wisdom in a Wednesday post on wine and spirits.

In other news…

Saturday’s edition of the Columbus Dispatch featured a story by Martin Rozenman on the failure of the abstinence message. One local high school student put it bluntly: “Zero tolerance doesn’t work.”

Health Day News reported on a study which found that researchers’ definitions of binge drinking are often out of step with the lexicon of binge drinking. Join Together has more details on how the language of intoxication might contribute to dangerous consumption.

Researchers at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health in Canada explored the phenomenon called pre-gaming in the latest edition of the journal Addiction, noting that prevention efforts for licensed establishments can backfire and lead to binge drinking. The study concludes: “Perhaps the most important lesson for policy and prevention planning is the recognition that getting drunk appears to be an underlying motivation for drinking (and pre-drinking) among many young people, highlighting the need for effective strategies to reduce planned intoxication. For example, policy and programming aimed to change drinking norms and promote moderation require further development, implementation and evaluation. Approaches that encourage young people to make safer choices when they are drinking require further development and should address pre-drinking specifically.”

Did we miss anything? Let us know or discuss these stories in the comments.

Underage Drinking is Binge Drinking

Monday, December 15th, 2008

The Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth reported that 96% of the alcohol drunk by 15-20 year-olds is consumed when the drinker is having five or more drinks at a time. Identifying how the age of legal consumption alters behavior is as important, if not more important, than if it affects whether one first begins to legally drink.

New – [CR] Week in Review

Friday, December 12th, 2008

This week, we’re launching a new service on the [CR] blog for our readers. Our issue has received a tremendous amount of media attention in the past few months, and we’d like to keep you in the loop. Every Friday morning, we’ll post a round-up of news clips and interesting stories on binge drinking, alcohol culture, and our proposal from around the country.

Stories this week:

Ted Long, President of Elizabethtown College and Amethyst Initiative signatory, participated in a community forum on the drinking age sponsored by the Rotary Club of Lancaster, PA.

Campus debates and panel discussions on the drinking age have been very popular in the past few months – Virginia Tech’s Collegiate Times reported that the school hosted a forum on college alcohol policy, the drinking age, and town/gown relations at the Blacksburg Municipal Building.

Ohio State’s student paper, The Lantern, posted a round-up of recent public statements made by President Gordon Gee, including a link to this video from a few weeks ago.

In other news…

Last Friday marked the 75th anniversary of the repeal of national prohibition, and Maureen Ogle wrote a provocative piece in US News about the lingering effects of the prohibition experiment.

Alex Morris of New York magazine penned a feature piece on high-risk drinking among young women with some alarming statistics: did you know that the rate of frequent binge drinking at all-female colleges increased 124 percent between 1993 and 2001?

The online editors of the New York Times have launched a new blog called Proof: Alcohol and American Life. From the editors: “In “Proof,” contributors consider the charms, powers and dangers of drink, and the role it plays in their lives.” They started the blog with a post on the anniversary of repeal, and followed up with a piece on dangerous drinking during the holiday season.

Dick Gordon, host of The Story on North Carolina Public Radio, interviewed Jack Gilles about his relationship with Gordie Bailey, the University of Colorado student who died after a night of drinking on his fraternity’s pledge night in 2004. Gilles now works with educators and young adults to prevent the kind of dangerous drinking that led to Gordie’s death. Watch “Haze,” the film inspired by Gordie’s tragic story, here.

Do you have anything to add? Send us a link or discuss these stories in the comments.

Drinking Age Online Seminar

Wednesday, December 10th, 2008

On Friday, December 12, Choose Responsibility founder and President Dr. John McCardell will participate in an online seminar sponsored by Magna Publications called “The Amethyst Initiative Debate: Rethinking The Drinking Age.” Dr. McCardell will join Brett Sokolow, President of the National Center for Higher Education Risk Management and an expert on campus safety and student health issues, for a discussion about the perceived successes of Legal Age 21 and alcohol-related policies designed to cope with problem drinking.

The first half of the seminar will feature a thorough discussion of the myths and facts surrounding the legal drinking age. During the second half of the event, audience members from higher education institutions around the country will share their questions and comments with the presenters.

Registration for live viewing of the seminar is closed; however, you can register here to view the completed program the day after the seminar has concluded. The program will be available on demand at no charge for a week afterward.

Please register today to become part of the large audience for this unique event!

Parents Protect Against Binge Drinking

Monday, December 8th, 2008

A study of 10,271 students in the UK in the online journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy found that when parents provided alcohol to their children in a family environment, children were less likely to engage in binge drinking and experience negative drinking outcomes. This rigorous study confirms cultural evidence from many other countries: drinking alcohol in the presence of parents has a protective affect against binge drinking.

Repeal Day

Friday, December 5th, 2008

December 5th, 2008 marks the 75th anniversary of the repeal of national Prohibition, one of the great social experiments in American history. Enacted in 1919 and repealed in 1933, Prohibition was brought about by the impressive zeal of several organizations who persuaded the American public of the promise of a society free of alcohol and saloons. The 18th Amendment represented the ultimate victory-Prohibition would be entrenched in the supreme law of the land.

Yet as the years rolled by, those utopian visions were replaced by an increase in illicit activity. Enforcement agencies were underfunded, understaffed and riddled with corruption. Liquor that was not illegally produced in home stills, casks, and breweries was smuggled in across the many thousand miles of unpatrolled border and coastline of the United States. Forced underground into basement speakeasies, alcohol consumption became more furtive, excessive and violent than ever before.

By 1932, public opinion had swung decisively against the 18th Amendment, and there was little question to its end by the time Congress framed the language of the 21st Amendment and passed it on to the states on February 20, 1933. The process was completed as Utah became the 36th and final state to ratify repeal on December 5th.

In many ways, Legal Age 21 can be considered latter-day prohibition. It denies legal alcohol purchase and consumption to a specific group of adults who are allowed all other rights of citizenship. Legal Age 21 drives alcohol consumption underground and away from supervision, and has created a cultural norm of reckless drinking that is similar to the dangerous behaviors common during the Prohibition era. Both Prohibition and Legal Age 21 encourage widespread disrespect for the law and creative lawbreaking, while the laws themselves are impossible to enforce.

America’s Prohibition experiment ended because the law failed to bring about the desired cultural change. After more than 20 years, Legal Age 21 has also failed to achieve its goal, as dangerous drinking by young adults remains a widespread and growing problem. It is time to heed the lessons of the Prohibition era and consider creative strategies to stop dangerous alcohol use by America’s young adults. Please join us today in commemorating this historic date responsibly.

Visit the Prohibition and Repeal section of our website for more on the history of the era in your state.

Here is a selection of press about Repeal Day from papers across the country:

USA Today
San Francisco Chronicle
Philadelphia Enquirer
Dallas Morning News
Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

Binge Drinking and Heart Health

Wednesday, December 3rd, 2008

Researchers at the University of Rochester may have discovered another negative consequence of binge drinking: hardening of the arteries and cardiovascular disease. According to a new study published in the October 18, 2008 issue of the journal Atherosclerosis, concentrations of acetaldehyde – a chemical produced by alcohol in the body – that remain in the bloodstream for extended periods (such as during binge drinking episodes) can increase the proliferation of monocytes, which play a role in hardening the arteries. Join Together has more details on the study.