Underage Drinking

Wasted in Wisconsin

November 1, 2009

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has put together a truly excellent series that documents Wisconsin’s culture of alcohol and the pain and misery it has exacted upon the state. I have often written on the subject of What is Wrong with Wisconsin* so I thought it fitting to highlight this JS online special that focuses on […]

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The Danger of Promoting the Lesser Evil

October 11, 2009

The Danger of Promoting the Lesser Evil at The Discovering Alcoholic

The Jesuit priest Baltasar Gracián wrote, “Never open the door to a lesser evil, for others invariably sneak in after it.” As a recovering alcoholic, this statement rings particularly true when considering the issue of considering using other substances in lieu of our drug of choice… say beer if one was a whiskey drinker, or switching to marijuana and other drugs. It never works; invariably alcoholics and addicts will ultimately abuse whatever they have chosen because WHY we use is more critical to our condition than what substance we choose.

On a much larger scale Russia is learning this basic lesson of recovery, years back the government tried to combat the rampant alcoholism of vodka drinkers by promoting beer as a choice with lower alcohol content. Unfortunately, this did nothing but start a whole new segment of the population to drinking and the new catchphrase- “drinking beer without vodka is a waste of money.” Now Russia is reversing gears and instead of promoting beer, is trying to tax it out of existence!

I wonder if the Amethyst Initiative is paying heed?

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Teaching Kids to Drink Responsibly in Wisconsin

October 10, 2009

Teaching Kids to Drink Responsibly in Wisconsin at The Discovering Alcoholic

Julia E. Laack of Sheboygan, Wisconsin pulled off a daring heist at the local convenience store stealing away with massive haul that included a bag of beef jerky and a cigarette lighter. It’s not clear if she had her kids in the getaway car or not, but because the police followed her home it soon became apparent she was drunk. When the police tried to arrest her she first blamed her kids, assaulted the officers kicking one in the groin and spitting on another, and then stripped down in front of all. An odd plan, but apparently thought she couldn’t be escorted to jail if she was nude.

Yea, obviously this woman will not be winning the world’s greatest mom award anytime soon, but other than providing fodder for the TDA stupid drunk tricks blog there is another reason I think this story in particular is important. Wisconsin law still permits the consumption of alcohol by minors, provided they are being supervised by parents/guardians/spouses. (sidebar) Need I say it, spouses? (/sidebar) So this is how she is teaching her kids to drink, and it’s not just Wisconsin or this lady’s actions that are the problem even though I must add, what is wrong with Wisconsin?

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Dr Karen Norberg Leads Study on Lower Drinking Age and Rates of Long Term Alcohol Use Problems

September 29, 2009

Thank you author and speaker Lisa Frederiksen of Breaking the Cycles for this regular series sharing her decades long experience of dealing with family alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Click here to see the rest of the series.

Breaking the Cycles at The Discovering Alcoholic

Alegent Health, Bio-Medicine, Health & Fitness msn.com and other news sources have been reporting on a study titled, Long-Term Effects of Minimum Drinking Age Laws on Past-Year Alcohol and Drug Use Disorders, by Karen E. Norberg, Laura J. Bierut, Richard A. Grucza. Theirs was a study of 33,869 adults who grew up at a time and place when/where it was legal to purchase and drink alcohol under age 21.

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MADD about Virgin Drinks

September 19, 2009

MADD about Virgin Drinks at The Discovering Alcoholic

Mother’s Against Drunk Driving (MADD) has linked up with a Canadian marketing firm to introduce a line of MADD sponsored and labeled mojitos, margaritas, pina coladas, beer, and red, white and sparkling wines that are 100% alcohol free.

They’re an alternative for people who want to serve drinks with “the great taste needed to make guests feel like they are part of the party — but without the alcohol,” said MADD’s national president, Laura Dean-Mooney. ~ The Associated Press

Even though I am a supporter of MADD and agree that non-alcoholic “mimic” drinks may be a good alternative for designated drivers, I do question the wisdom of putting their name on adult beverages regardless of the content. MADD already has a large host of detractors from the ABI to minimum age opponents, and this move will certainly give them a controversial issue to target.

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The Myth of Clandestine College Drinking

September 17, 2009

Original pick by MonkeyMyshkin under creative commons license now at The Discovering Alcoholic

John M. McCardell Jr., president emeritus at Middlebury College and a member of the Amethyst Initiative urges a debate on lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18 stating that by doing so would bring college drinking out in the open so it could be better managed.

The problem today is reckless, goal-oriented alcohol consumption that all too often takes place in clandestine locations, where enforcement has proven frustratingly difficult. Alcohol consumption among young adults is not taking place in public places or public view or in the presence of other adults who might help model responsible behavior. But we know it is taking place. ~ CNN Commentary

I stress the last part of his commentary there because it should be self evident that it is not only true, but also counterproductive to his stance. College students aren’t going to do anything in the presence of adults that may discourage “model” behavior- eating, drinking, sex, drugs, and music are never going to be chaperoned activities.

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Fan Can Ban?

August 21, 2009

Is Anheuser-Busch marketing Bud Light to college students with its new campaign of NCAA football team colored “Fan Cans”? Some university officials think so, but AB says it aimed only at those of legal drinking age. Actually I think it would be kind of hard to separate the two, kind of like shooting a shotgun into a crowd- you are bound to hit more than just the intended target. I tend to agree with the WSJ story where I first saw this story and MyFoxBoston who provided the video that in reality schools may be more concerned about trademark violations and sports revenue than underage drinking though.

In recent letters, the University of Michigan’s lawyers threatened legal action for alleged trademark infringement, demanding that Anheuser-Busch not sell the “maize and blue” cans in the “entire state.” The University of Colorado, Oklahoma State University, Texas A&M University and Boston College have also told the company to stop distribution near their campuses, citing trademark issues and concern about student alcohol use. ~ WSJ

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Drinking to Get Drunk

August 5, 2009

original pic by nyki_m under creative commons license now at The Discovering Alcoholic

Italy is imposing age restrictions and new limits on drinking to combat the continued rise of abuse and alcoholism, particularly among young people. Europe has long been used as an example by proponents that a lower minimum drinking age here in the States would reduce the “forbidden fruit” symptoms of secretive and binge drinking, but recent trends contradict this line of thought.

“The problem of alcoholism is growing in Italy because we have severed the link between food and drink — now, young people drink to get drunk,” and that creates all sorts of problems for public safety and the proliferation of laws to control the situation, said Edi Sommariva, who is director general of FIPE and a supporter of the E.U. restrictions on sales venues for alcohol. ~ NYT

Notice the emphasis (mine), Italy’s culture has changed- become more like our own. No longer is alcohol tied in with a sit down meal, instead now young people just consider it an intoxicant.

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TDA on the Minimum Drinking Age in 30 Seconds

July 27, 2009

original pic by nDevilTV under creative commons license now at The Discovering Alcoholic

Dr. Morris Chafetz was a member of President Reagan’s commission in the 1980s that recommended raising the drinking age to 21; he now says it was “the single most regrettable decision” of his career. My first thought on such a comment is that if this is most regrettable decision of his life he can remember, then most likely the man has just gone senile. But it is this second comment that really raised my sanity-doubting eyebrow.

“Legal Age 21 has not worked,” Chafetz said in the piece. “To be sure, drunk driving fatalities are lower now than they were in 1982. But they are lower in all age groups… (snip) the law instead has resulted in “collateral, off-road damage” such as binge drinking that occurs in underage youth and crimes like date rape, assaults and property damage.~ LA Times

I guess Dr. Chafetz must believe that if they were just allowed to drink legally, the young inebriated idiots of the world would become gentle law abiding lambs. I mean everyone knows that date rape, assaults, and property crime just didn’t exist in prior to the National Minimum Age Drinking Act of 1984- back in the good old days, when alcohol made kids smart.

10 seconds left, must hurry… I oppose lowering the minimum drinking age limits because it is a known fact the earlier one starts drinking the more likely they are to suffer substance abuse issues. Game, set, match for me. Combine this with the fact that by lowering the drinking age we just put 16 and 17 year olds as next up in the queue- no doubt idolizing the high school seniors turning up a cold beer . Even more emotionally and physically immature, they will be inheriting the angst and the ills of those almost old enough to drink.

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Milan’s Minimum Drinking Age: Meglio Tardi Che Mai

July 18, 2009

Milan’s Minimum Drinking Age at The Discovering Alcoholic

Milan has imposed the first comprehensive minimum drinking law in Italy banning anyone under the age of sixteen. Stiff fines are promised for those caught drinking or enabling the now illegal behavior. Considering the rising problem of binge drinking and alcoholism among the Italian youth, I would say it’s meglio tardi che mai (better late than never).

In Milan, 34 percent of 11-year-olds have had problems with alcohol, the municipality said in a statement. Overall, 22.4 percent of boys aged 11-18 and 13 percent of girls in Italy have drinking habits that pose a health risk, according to the National Observatory for Alcohol. ~ AP

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Binge Drinking by Teens – World Wide Statistics Suggest Lowering the Drinking Age Doesn’t Help

July 14, 2009

Thank you author and speaker Lisa Frederiksen of Breaking the Cycles for this regular series sharing her decades long experience of dealing with family alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Click here to see the rest of the series.

Breaking the Cycles at The Discovering Alcoholic

One of the areas covered in the U.S. Surgeon General’s 2007 Call to Action to Prevent and Reduce Underage Drinking is a presentation of data from the European School Survey Project on Alcohol and Drugs, 2003, on binge drinking by European students ages 15-16. As you likely have read, there is an effort by American university and college presidents, called the Amethyst Initiative, that urges a debate on lowering the drinking age from 21 to 18. The belief is that a lower drinking age will remove the temptation to binge drink because alcohol consumption would be legal for students at age 18 (i.e., no need to drink as much as possible when an occasion arises because access will be legal and readily available).

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Wisconsin: At Least This Badger has an Excuse!

July 13, 2009

original pic by jasja dekker under creative commons license now at The Discovering Alcoholic

I couldn’t help but spring at the chance to offer another back handed tribute to woeful Wisconsin and it’s sad track record of alcohol abuse and DUI after hearing about this obnoxiously drunk badger. Yep, this was a real badger, meles meles– not to be confused with the more common North American type, the drunkus fanaticus. Stoned out its mind on fermented fruit, this usually ferocious ball of fur was a dumpy lump that literally had to be swept off the pavement. And like a typical drunkard, this intoxicated badger made its strongest statement of the evening… by fouling itself.

“The animal’s stomach had turned the fruit to alcohol and the badger was, to put it crudely, drunk as a skunk,” said a police statement on Wednesday. “In addition, the badger was suffering from diarrhoea studded with cherry stones.”

At least this badger has an honest excuse, the same thing can not be said for those in Wisconsin that keep the state at the top for DUI and underage drinking and at the bottom in enforcement.

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Wisconsin is the Weakest

June 21, 2009

Last year I ran with a blog entitled “What is Wrong with Wisconsin?” chiding the state with a flurry of W’s over their excessive drunk driving and underage drinking rates.

Considering that the official state beverage of Wisconsin is a sober glass of milk, it’s hard to miss the irony in that the state also leads the nation in those that admit to driving under the influence. Add the fact that it also has the dubious honor of scoring the highest percentage in the nation for underage drinking, and it’s even harder not to ask the question, “What’s wrong with Wisconsin?”

An additional W inspired scolding seems appropriate according to Judge George S. Curry who says Wisconsin has the weakest driving under the influence laws in the nation.

Wisconsin is the only state where a first operating while intoxicated offense is a traffic citation… Wisconsin is rated as one of the worst states in the nation when it comes to the number of drunken driving fatalities. ~ THonline

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Your Brain Must Be This Old to Ride

June 7, 2009

original pic by timparkinson under creative commons license now at The Discovering Alcoholic

Drinking onset at 16 and younger, versus 21 and older, appears to double the likelihood of alcohol-related driving or unintentional injuries, as well as the risk for alcohol dependence or abuse, the investigators report. ~ Reauters

Like a kid being denied entrance to a carnival ride because of the minimum height requirement, I know the age limit for drinking must seem arbitrary and unfair to underage would-be imbibers. Lines have to be drawn somewhere though, and considering the much greater chance for accidents and abuse for those that begin drinking early I have no problem whatsoever supporting the minimum age limit of 21.

I don’t care how smart, responsible, or mature you are, your brain must be 21 to get on this ride.

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Everybody Drinks

May 5, 2009

Thank you author and speaker Lisa Frederiksen of Breaking the Cycles for this regular series sharing her decades long experience of dealing with family alcoholism and alcohol abuse. Click here to see the rest of the series. Breaking the Cycles at The Discovering Alcoholic

by Lisa Frederiksen

Time and again, you hear students and adults say something like, “It’s normal. All kids drink.” And, often, researchers (myself included) focus on how many young people are drinking. The 2002 to 2006 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health, for example, found that in 2006 almost one in five people aged 12 – 20 engaged in binge drinking (consuming five or more drinks on at least one occasion) in the past month and almost half had used alcohol in the past year. [Source: http://oas.samhsa.gov/underage2k8/Ch2.htm#2.1]

Similarly, most adults and students believe that all adults drink alcohol.

Often it is these perceptions that leave adults and young people believing they should drink or be able to control their drinking in order to successfully drink because everybody drinks. But, the perceptions and the realities do not line up.

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