From one generation to the next, we have seemingly continued this ridiculous practice of “binge drinking”. Sure, let”s all see who can drink the most, who passes out first, and let”s not forget throwing-up? Yes, you haven”t experienced the true effects of binge drinking until you”ve thrown-up all over yourself. But why, why is it that today”s generation feels that this is fun?
Risking your life to fit in isn”t fun. Fun is going to an amusement park or even a baseball game. Unfortunately, college campuses across the nation are preoccupied by this issue of alcohol abuse. Binge drinking in the U.S. is out of control and mostly a problem that our government has produced.
It is a byproduct of legal age limits for drinking. Therefore, putting an age limit on drinking privileges is definitely something that needs to be reevaluated. Binge drinking is defined as “the consumption of five or more drinks in a row on at least one occasion” Webster”s 61.
In national surveys, “about a third of high school seniors and 42 percent of college students reported at least one occasion of binge drinking within the previous two weeks” Thompson 35. It also has been nationally identified that “alcohol has been related to 75 percent of campus police arrests, 80 percent of residence hall damages, 85 percent of sexual assaults, 70 percent of discipline referrals, and 50 percent of suicide attempts” Thompson 35.
Since 1993 our problem has only worsened. The Harvard School of Public Health”s Alcohol Study found that ” among heavy drinkers, it has also found an increase in those who said they not only binged but binged frequently: they rose to 20.7% of the 14,521 students in 1997 survey from 19.5% of more than 15,000 students in the 1993 sample” Goldberg A8.
The problem is not the age in which one should drink, but the way they do drink. Students binge because they have never been taught how to drink responsibly. College administrators are making an effort to reduce all these statistics and get rid of this awful disease spreading through their campuses.
They have restricted drinking privileges in every way possible. “Zero tolerance” no alcohol laws have been put into effect everywhere, endless peer-counseling groups have been initiated, and let”s not forget the almighty alcohol awareness campaigns that are crowding our television stations all the time. Think about it though. Why waste our time with all of these restrictions when all that is needed is a change in the rules? There should be no such thing as an underage drinker. Twenty-one is not a magic number when we all have mysteriously grown up.
In fact, I cannot recall a single twenty-one year old that was responsible and grown up. As a result of the government”s ignorance, this age restriction has only induced binge drinking among young adults. College presidents agree that binge drinking is the most serious problem on college campuses today. “The percentage of college kids who were binge drinkers was nearly uniform from freshman to senior year, even though students under twenty-one are prohibited from purchasing alcohol” Goldberg A8. Even with the present alcohol regimen students still seem to find a way to acquire intoxicating beverages.
All the governments twenty-one rule is doing is flashing a neon sign that says, “be a rebel, defy your parents, it will be fun.” This all results in ignorance, not knowing when to say when because no one taught you. Europeans definitely have the right idea when it comes to their children consuming alcohol. They don”t say it”s off limits.
In fact they drink with them starting at a very early age. With their parents supervision they learn how to enjoy drinking rather than consuming it in irrational quantities. This allows time to associate the effects of drinking, as well as their tolerance levels. It helps them to see the social side of drinking, as well as keeping it from being something that has to be kept a secret. As a result, Europeans have a “shockingly lower rate of binge drinking among their students” Thompson 32. It all makes brilliant sense, when you tell a child that they cannot do something, they are going to have the urge to do it even more than they did before. Teaching student”s today how to drink responsibly within their families first would definitely help a great deal.
Alcohol needs to be looked at as a normal part of life instead of this wondrous forbidden fruit. If the government abolished our drinking age law, maybe our problem would be better solved. Student”s could feel good about drinking rather than hiding it away in their dorm rooms. They could take their time and drink while eating and discussing their classes together.
The fact remains though, that drinking is illegal for early age college kids and is definitely a big reason why they find this binge drinking fun. They feel like they are “getting over on someone,” in a sense. If it was not illegal to drink before twenty-one, maybe students would be less prone to abuse alcohol.
“36,000 of the nation”s 12 million undergraduates will ultimately die from alcohol-related causes while in school. This is more than the number who will get MA”s and PhD”s combined” Goldberg A8.
Obviously the United States government has some reevaluating to consider. With statistics like these, we are already playing Russian roulette with our children”s lives. How much further are we all willing to go to keep alcohol away from students, when all that is needed is a change of heart.