Archive for the 'underage drinking' Category

New study emphasizes adult influence on underage drinking

Friday, October 31st, 2014

A recent California study has shown that communities where social host laws are more stringent have demonstrated more responsible underage contingents.

This may not come as a surprise, though it has implications when thought of in the context of role-modeling. Adults who discourage binge drinking in their presence, yet encourage responsible drinking in responsible settings, help to promote positive habits for minors. This behavior may be encouraged by these new social host laws.

Lead researcher Mallie J. Paschall claimed that ‘”Most kids get alcohol from social sources, not commercial ones,” so laws that target the social-sources of alcohol, such as parents or adult caretakers, can help reduce underage drinking.’

To read more, click here

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.

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.

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.

Alcohol and Motor Control

Monday, November 3rd, 2008

Experiments have shown that despite age, the adolescent brain actually maintains better balance, reaction time, and hand eye coordination than an adult brain under the same level of alcohol impairment. While some researchers use that evidence to assert that it allows young adults to get drunker before becoming incapacitated, is it not an equally valid assertion that under the same level of alcohol impairment the young adult driver would perform better than the older driver?

ShotPaks: A Dangerous New Craze

Wednesday, August 13th, 2008

If you thought that Alcopops encouraged drinking amongst young adults, wait until you hear about a new craze:  ShotPaks.  ShotPaks are small, shot-sized alcoholic drinks that come in little plastic pouches—perfect for a drinker on the go, according to manufacturers.  Marketed as a “party in a pouch,” ShotPaks are sweet, sugary drinks called “Purple Hooters” and “Kamikazes,” although the more serious drinker may want to pick up the “STR8UP” ShotPaks, which contain only straight liquor without any mixer.


Sure, there may be no glass to break, and therefore ShotPaks might seem safer at events like concerts and sports games.  However, the real danger is that the small size and sweet taste of ShotPaks make them tasty, easily concealable and, in other words, very appealing to underage drinkers.  By helping to push drinking more undercover, ShotPaks make binge drinking even harder to monitor amongst both underage and of-age drinkers—something that have dangerous consequences.

Study: Kids Receiving Alcohol from Parents and Other Adults

Thursday, June 26th, 2008

The results of a nationwide survey looking at the social context of underage alcohol use, performed by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, were released today.  This National Survey on Drug Use and Health looked at many aspects of alcohol use and drinking behaviors amongst 12-20 year olds, and the major finding capturing the headlines is that underage drinkers are obtaining alcohol from adults, including parents and guardians.  Blaming parents and adult family members for underage alcohol use and labeling them as “enablers” may be a hasty conclusion, however.  The study indicates that 40% of underage drinkers obtained alcohol from an adult (someone over 21) for free in the past month.  However, one in four youths received alcohol from an unknown adult, and only one in twelve youths received alcohol from a parent or guardian. 


More importantly, the study does not clearly specify how parents are giving their kids alcohol.  A glass of wine at a family dinner might be statistically the same as a mother buying a keg for a son’s graduation party; however, the implications of these actions are much different.  Conclusions from the study stress that parents should be involved by providing proper guidance and ensuring their kids’ safety by preventing them from the dangerous act of drinking.  Is it possible, however, that allowing a son or daughter a glass of wine with dinner helps teach responsible drinking, and thus can be considered parental guidance?  A recent Time Magazine article discussed in a June 20th post does an excellent job debating this issue.

In general, we are having a hard time seeing how the results of this study support a legal age 21.  Kids are finding alcohol and drinking underage, and one in five underage drinkers have binged at least once in the last month.  Moreover, this drinking is happening in private, unsupervised locations, and over half of underage drinkers have drank in someone else’s room or house during the past month.  If you ask us, that is more scary than the fact that some youths are sharing a beer with mom and dad. 

We encourage you to visit this ABC article for more information, links, and comments.

“Should You Drink with Your Kids?”

Friday, June 20th, 2008

Should You Drink with Your Kids?,” published in the June 30th Issue of Time Magazine, is an insightful and balanced article on underage drinking and the drinking age.  Aside from addressing multiple points of view on the topic of underage drinking and drinking with parental supervision, we think that it does an excellent job of citing appropriate research and raising some important points about drinking and public health that are at the center of many of Choose Responsibility’s ideas.  We particularly like its attention to the problem of binge drinking and what may be contributing to increases in binge drinking rates over the last few years.  We encourage you to check out the article and, as always, we welcome your comments and questions.

Increasing the Tax on Alcopops

Wednesday, June 18th, 2008

We have previously commented on the growing popularity of “alcopops” and our concern that their advertised reputation as sweet drinks masking the taste of liquor, while delivering intoxication, makes them appeal to underage drinkers.  Alcopops are usually sold in stores’ beer aisles, also making them popular among underage drinkers, who most frequently choose beer as their drink of choice.  Large-scale consumption of these drinks by young and underage drinkers fuels the binge-drinking problem in this country, and so we were happy to read that California has recently decided to regulate and tax alcopops as distilled spirits and not as beers.  The change, which will take place in October, will tax alcopops with the current liquor tax of $3.30 per gallon, up from $0.20 per gallon, the current tax on beer.

We believe that increasing the tax on alcopops will help decrease their consumption amongst underage drinkers since a higher price tag should decrease their appeal amongst consumers.  In fact, past studies have indicated that throughout history, higher taxes on alcohol have led to a decreased likelihood of heavy drinking and binge drinking.  Higher alcohol prices have also been correlated with decreased rates of underage drinking, sexually transmitted diseases, and traffic fatalities in the past…nothing wrong with that! 

Recent comments on our May 27th, 2008 post argue that using higher taxes to deter alcohol consumption is a neo-prohibitionist approach and that focus should be placed on responsible drinking and not the type of alcohol consumed.  However, we believe that alcopops are a unique case and that increasing the tax on these beverages is an appropriate strategy to combat irresponsible drinking.  Alcopops appeal to underage and young drinkers, who are most likely to binge drink, and so making them less appealing by raising their price targets irresponsible drinking within this age group.  This, coupled with the fact that studies have shown that higher prices deter alcohol abuse, suggests that increasing the tax on alcopops will be effective in reducing irresponsible binge drinking.  Of course, we hope that measures to teach responsible drinking, such as education programs on safe alcohol consumption, are adopted along with these adjustments in taxes.  With any luck, other states will begin to follow California’s lead and reconsider their tax policies for liquor in the near future.

To read more on the studies mentioned above, see Paying the Tab:  The Costs and Benefits of Alcohol Control, by Philip J. Cook—a very interesting read.


62 High Schoolers arrested at post-prom bash

Monday, June 2nd, 2008

Over 100 high-school students from New Jersey were caught and breathalyzed this past Friday night when police broke up a party in West Dover, VT, the Rutland Herald reported on Sunday. The police ended what was supposed to be a three-day after-prom party, taking place at three houses that the teens had rented, and 62 students received citations for being in possession of a malt beverage. Such a large scale party once again brings to light the issues of underage drinking and binge drinking, and the party’s isolated location in Southern Vermont highlights the problem of the secretiveness, stealth, and complex planning that often accompanies underage drinking—something that can increase its dangerousness.

The New Jersey teens are most likely juniors and seniors in high school and, therefore, would still be unable to drink even if the drinking age was 18. However, the furtive nature of their party and the huge quantity of alcohol present (police found 18 kegs of beer, 8 bottles of vodka, and 5 cases of beer) demonstrates a culture of secret binge drinking characterized by strategic planning, execution, and excessiveness that transcends the high-school/college boundary and is present amongst high school and college students, alike. Not being allowed to drink in public, such as at bars and restaurants, fuels this binge drinking culture, as young adults are driven to drink heavily in short amounts of time, in an attempt to “pre-game” parties and events.

The recent Vermont party also raises the issue of parental enabling of underage drinking, since the fact that the teens had three rented houses and such a large amount of alcohol suggests that parents may have been involved in planning the party. Recently, social host laws have been enacted in some communities to try and inhibit this parental involvement by claiming that parents will be held responsible and steeply fined for underage drinking in their homes. As the details of the Vermont party are investigated further, more information as to the involvement of parents will hopefully become available.