Archive for February, 2012

February Update

Tuesday, February 28th, 2012

What have we talked about here at CR in the past month?

Stupid Drunks

Moms for Responsibility

US-Canada Border

Debating the Age at Sonoma State

Responsibility in Pubs

Britain’s New Strategy

A Student’s Perspective on Campus Booze

UVA Trial

College Drinking (again)

College Drinking (one more time)

18-year olds in bars

What do you want to read in March 2012?

Have we ignored the stupid [college] drunk for too long?

Monday, February 27th, 2012

Last week’s verdict in the trial of George Huguely, former UVa lacrosse player, brought the dangerous consequences of college binge drinking out from behind the closed doors of smoky bars, fraternity basements, and dorm rooms.

An article entitled “The Case of the ‘Stupid Drunk'” from this morning’s Chronicle of Higher Education reminds us that we’ve all encountered the type of drinker that emerges from these clandestine places: stumbling, stuttering, and, as Huguely’s lawyer said, “stupid”.

Eric Hoover, author of the aforementioned article, notes that these days, being the stupid drunk seems to be part of the college experience. He writes,

The verdict followed a two-week trial in which alcohol played a significant role. Mr. Huguely’s story reveals the awful paradox of heavy drinking: Even as it unleashes terrible behavior in one man, it so often turns his friends into bystanders, unwilling or unable to help, assuming that they even see a problem at all.

However, the loss of life (not to mention the 26 years Huguely could spend in jail) reminds us that the pervasive abuse of alcohol that stems from not learning to drink safely cannot be ignored any longer.

A Mom for Responsibility

Friday, February 24th, 2012

Lela Davidson, blogger of all things parenthood, offered a provocative perspective on alcohol education in her kids’ schools on yesterday’s MSNBC TODAYMoms blog. Davidson gives a humorous yet frank analysis on the alcohol education her children received in school. Her youngsters have apparently been taught that all alcohol is evil incarnate, and they consequently police their parents’ drinking. She writes (read the full article here),

Pouring a drink is legal, healthy and perfectly acceptable adult behavior…And yet, my 6th and 8th grader are increasingly on my case whenever they catch me with a corkscrew in hand. Maybe instead of inundating our children with the dangers of alcohol, we ought to be educating them about its proper and diverse uses, such as celebrating special occasions…

Davidson reminds her readers that children could or should learn about drinking responsibly while also being reminded of the harms of drinking irresponsibly.

Moms what have you taught your children about choosing responsibility?

Students cited at US-Canada border for alcohol

Wednesday, February 22nd, 2012

The separation between the US and Canadian drinking ages was recently exacerbated when 26 Boston-area college students were cited at the US-Canada border for underage possession of alcohol.

The students, who were entering the United States via the Vermont border, had been visiting Quebec, where the drinking age is 18, the Boston Herald reports. While the purpose of the students’ trip to Canada was not specified, the citations indicate the distinction in drinking age made by the adjacent country’s borders.


Drinking age debate at Sonoma State

Tuesday, February 21st, 2012

William DeJong and Choose Responsibility’s Barrett Seaman recently debated the drinking age at Sonoma State University. An article from the college’s newspaper, The Sonoma Star, noted that underage binge drinking has increased significantly despite the 21 year old drinking age.

While the total number of drinking youths has remained fairly constant, there was a 56 percent increase in binge drinking from 18 to 20 year olds between 1993 and 2001. In addition, close to 5,000 people die every year due to underage drinking, including victims of drunk driving accidents from underage drivers.

During the debate, students also had the opportunity to weigh in on how “21” affects them.

Pubs Encourage Responsible Drinking?

Monday, February 20th, 2012

Ireland’s National Substance Misuse Strategy, published this month, argues that pubs, unlike drinking in sequestered environments, can encourage responsible drinking behavior.

An article about the report, published by the Irish Times, claims that supermarket alcohol bolsters binge drinking because of its accessibility and low cost. Pubs encourage responsibility because of the communal atmosphere and cost that are associated with consuming in public. The article quotes Dr. Joe Barry, head of the department of public health at Trinity College Centre for Health Sciences, who argues,

The real difficulty…is cheap drink in supermarkets. It appeals particularly to young people and those dependent on alcohol. Because drink in a pub is dearer, you’ll do yourself less damage there for the same amount of money spent.

Read the full article here.


Britain’s New Strategy

Thursday, February 16th, 2012

Great Britain, like the United States, realizes that binge drinking does not exclude any age group or demographic.

Prime Minister David Cameron seeks to oppose his country’s problems with responsible drinking with a higher tax on alcohol, as cited by Rupert Wolfe-Murray’s article “Where is Britain’s New Alcohol Strategy”.

This tax targets irresponsible behavior in all demographics instead of targeting a specific age group.

Cornell Student Reflects on Campus Drinking Culture

Wednesday, February 15th, 2012

An op-ed from the Cornell Sun, Cornell’s student newspaper, reflects on the school’s social culture and on the importance of creating safe spaces where alcohol is consumed.

The article, mentioning the Amethyst Initiative, speaks specifically about binge drinking as a result of the restriction of alcohol at student social events.

Drinking Habits Are Major Topic in UVA Lacrosse Murder Trial

Monday, February 13th, 2012

ABC news reports that excessive alcohol consumption has been a frequently discussed topic in the trial of former UVA lacrosse player George Huguely V, who is accused of killing UVA women’s lacrosse player Yeardley Love.

The article  claims that stories of binge drinking have been a common topic throughout the trial and that both Huguley and Love were intoxicated at the time of the incident:

George Huguely V estimated to a police officer that he had as many as 20 drinks the day that he broke into his ex-girlfriend’s room and, police charge, killed her.

Huguely’s alleged victim, Yeardley Love, had also spent much of that day drinking. An autopsy determined that her blood alcohol level was about twice the legal limit.



College Students Exceed Non-students in Alcohol Abuse

Saturday, February 11th, 2012

The Chronicle of Higher Education reported this week that college students’ tendency to abuse alcohol significantly exceeds the tendency to abuse alcohol in their non-student counterparts. The article, which cites a 2009 report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, claims that 46.6 percent of college students have battled substance abuse versus only 30 percent of those not enrolled in college.

To make a conservative estimate, a traditional, four-year college might have a student body in which at least half of its students under the age of 21. Given the Chronicle’s news cited above where 46.6 percent of college students have had a drinking problem, arguably, at least half of these students with a problem were under 21.

Statistical information such as this refutes the impossible claims that current alcohol regulations in our country are preventing consumption by those who are underage. What’s more, the “bubble-like” college environment, where students are mostly surrounded by people their own age, can exacerbate unhealthy drinking behaviors. Many college students leave home without an understanding of how to imbibe responsibly and then mirror the dangerous habits of their peers, who have  just as little education on responsible consumption.