Alcohol Abstinence Education
May 28, 2009
Recently in the news, a 16 year old kid apparently died of excessive alcohol consumption at a party. (The autopsy is not complete, could have been other things in his system.) First the police locked up the party host who threw the event while his parents were away. Now they're trying to find who purchased the alcohol to prosecute that person as well.
While I agree the alcohol-purchasing person should probably be fined, chances are he or she will be charged with involuntary manslaughter or something else awful. Personal responsibility be damned, let's blame someone else.
I think that the current state of alcohol education encourages binge drinking, and is the equivalent of abstinence-only education for sex. It doesn't work because it creates an all-or-nothing model of a pleasant act. After you turn 21, or after you get married, booze and sex is awesome! Before, you are not allowed to even learn about it. It's great, but we can't tell you anything about it.
I am particularly perturbed by alcohol brand websites. All of them require you to enter your birth date or click to prove you're 21 years of age. That means in order to learn about, say, the history of a brand or person behind a brand, you need to be old enough to drink alcohol. Why? These sites already promote responsible drinking within the site- it's not like you click through and they instruct you how to drive a car with a six-pack in your lap. And how would reading drink recipes on these sites encourage underage drinking? I can read about how to drive a backhoe, but since nobody will give me a backhoe there's no danger of me scooping irresponsibly.
I understand that these age restricted sites and alcohol abstinence education in general are what everyone has to do to avoid being sued. (Websites are basically ads for the brand, and ads showing people having fun with the addition of alcohol are against the current industry advertising policy.) But I also think that these policies prevent people from learning about alcohol and its role in history and culture- things that would make it seem a lot less glamorous and exotic.
Amen! My parents occasionally allowed me and my brother to have some beer or wine with dinner when we were well below drinking age. And of course champagne on special occasions. They were beverages to enjoy and appreciate. Neither one of us had issues with drinking in high school and college, unlike so many of our peers. That's not to say we didn't party and sometimes drink too much just like everyone else, but we were much less obsessed with drinking and we grew out of it much sooner. When anything is labeled "off-limits," naturally a teenager is going to latch right onto it - without understanding or appreciating it. Why not employ some simple education so that everyone can enjoy rather than abuse alcohol?
Posted by: Leslie | May 28, 2009 at 08:39 AM
Agree with you 100% Camper! Education is key as is a comfortable acceptance of these so-called taboo issues. That is what the very concept of 'culture' is about imo. Involving all kinds of ritual in all parts of society at every stage in life... celebrating life with the whole community - including the children! Young folks here in the US don't even seem to become real people until they turn 18 - yet they still cannot enjoy a glass of wine with dinner or a beer at a ballgame (legally anyway). Yet they can go and die for our country in combat... something is wrong with that.
Posted by: alex | May 28, 2009 at 10:16 AM
All of that may be true, but it doesn't excuse illegally giving alchohol to teenagers, especially knowing that they have tendency to do very stupid stuff with it. None of us serve alcohol to minors, primarily because the consquences for us would be damning. The same should be true of whoever bought/sold a bunch of alcohol to these kids. They probably thought it wouldn't hurt, and their parents let them drink some or whatever, but the end result was clearly terrible. Unintented consequences of illegal actions should have harsh penalties if only to encourage people to think about the results of their actions one or two steps down the line.
Posted by: Hunter | May 29, 2009 at 10:18 AM
Alcoholism is the popular term for two disorders alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence. The key element of these disorders is that a person's use of alcohol has repeatedly caused problems in his or her life. Alcoholism has serious consequences on a person's health and personal life, on family and friends, and on society at large.
Posted by: alcoholism teenager | June 17, 2009 at 07:39 PM