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Being as this is my last blog post, I am going to the answer the question I set out to at the beginning of this year. “Does America really have the best drinking culture in the world because of our higher drinking age? Or should our drinking age be lowered?”

First I have a story that brings this a little closer to home. Last weekend I went to Lake Tahoe to snowboard with a bunch of international students from SFSU. There were about 80 of us all together looking to let loose and have a good time. Which as I have been saying for young people usually involves drinking. The first night at the cabin I came across an interesting and eye opening experience. A group of us were sitting together and there was a bottle of champagne going around the group; after one girl ( who I hadn’t met yet) drank from the bottle. One of her friends next to her was surprised and said something like, ” You’re drinking?”. The girl replies,”Yes I drink but I just don’t binge drink”. My mouth nearly dropped. I never thought that I would find someone in a college house party who is an international student that doesn’t binge drink.

Before I get ahead of myself let me explain what binge drinking, because I don’t believe it is a term that we Americans throw around very often in the younger crowd. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is defined as  “a common pattern of excessive alcohol use in the United States. Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when men consume 5 or more drinks, and when women consume 4 or more drinks, in about 2 hours.”

The next night I talked to her a bit more about the issue of binge drinking around the world and I was deffinately surprised from what I found out. I said something like, ” It has been pretty hard this semester to say no to consuming alcohol because I have been hanging around a lot of international students who drink quite a bit.” She replies, ” Really? In Europe we always thought binge drinking was an American thing. In Europe we would never have drinking games like beer pong, flip cup or beer bongs.” She also mentioned that that because this kind of drinking culture is shown in movies having to do with America, that many Europeans come to America because they believe this is what our culture is like. She did admit that Europeans drink more often but they are more casual about their drinking and don’t drink to become drunk.

I was shocked and so was she. In America it seems that we point the finger at the Europeans for being irressponsible with their drinking because they allow children to consume alcohol. Ironically it seems that Europeans point the finger at us because we binge drink at many occasions. I believe that both opinions have very good points to them.

The CDC also says that, 75 percent of adults in America consume alcohol in the form of binge drinks. In addition 90 percent of drinks consumed by people under 21 in America are also in the form of binge drinks. The website also says that binge drinking can lead to alcohol poisoning, injuries, sexual assault, STDs, liver disease, sexual dysfunction and much more. This obviously is a problem for the United States.

Courtesy of "Alcohol Statistics in Europe"

According to the article “Alcohol in Teens in Europe” binge drinking is also a big problem in Europe. This is because the drinking age around Europe is 18 which is technically still  teenager and when people start drinking in Europe they tend to binge drink as well. To end this problem some countries in Europe have raised their drinking age to 21 which has decreased binge drinking by 12 percent. However even if the drinking age is changed to 21; doesn’t mean this problem will go away. Also it doesn’t mean that America doesn’t have a problem with this either.

In my opinion the best thing to do is to stop pointing fingers on opposite sides of the world and come clean. It is clear that all over the world binge drinking is a problem no matter the drinking age. Like I said before I don’t believe age is the only factor to this problem, it is part of the issue but the most important part to solve this problem is teaching people everywhere to know their limits when it comes to alcohol. Granted being older does help a person make good choices but that is not neccsasarily the case.

I believe that each country should start at at different place depending on their legal drinking age, because the countries culture and history is important when altering ideals about alcohol. So for countries like Germany and Italy, that have a legal drinking age of 16, they should work on enforcing this drinking age. Also I don’t think it would hurt to raise the drinking age to 18. For countries like Ireland, England, and the rest of Europe that have a legal drinking age of 18, they should work on enforcing their drinking age and also teaching their youth about alcohol abuse. I believe that culturally if the countries that have a drinking age of 18, raise their drinking age to 21 it will not culturally fit. These countries’ people I believe will not accept this law. Now for America I believe that we should our legal drinking age at 21, because if we lower this I do believe that young people under 21 will become even more destructive with alcohol. This will bot be good for our society and our tax payers, however I do believe that we also need to teach our youth about alcohol abuse before they are able to drink legally. So 6 months before their 21rst birthdays and when they turn 18. This should be mandatory for every young person like driver’s education.

The last bit of advice I have for everyone is something I have learned this semester. It is best to be yourself. I believe a big reason that people drink is to let go, be free, have fun and maybe improve their moods. However drinking just adds to these problems, and alcohol is not necessary to have fun. We shouldn’t drink to get drunk but drink because we enjoy the taste of alcohol. Best to everyone 🙂

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In my recent blog post about drinking in the young adult audience, I adressed the issue that alcohol is more serious than we realize in our society. We have all seen young people in society at maybe bars, on spring break cruises, girls nights out, or maybe just even on the street; there  always seems to be that group of college or high school kids that have had a bit too much to drink. They may be walking crookedly, taking shots, making out with the opposite sex and of course yelling loudly ( I have even been one of these young people). Adults give us this look of, “oh what has our generation come to” and walk hastily away.

 This is how young people are though, we study hard in school and we want to party hard on the weekends. It seems almost as if we are justified by society in our pusrsuit of a good time because we are young and only have a certain amount of  time to let our hair loose before adulthood. When adults look at intoxicated young people it’s almost always accomapnies a thought of ‘I remember those days’. Our society accepts and recognizes that as young people we are vivacious and this time will soon pass in our lives. However that’s the problem for many that time doesn’t end and can become a person’s whole life. Society thinks that alcohol is so innocent because it is legal, but don’t realize that we aren’t playing with innocent toys. This is something that controls our young developing brains and leads us to a road of destruction. It’s all fun and games before someone becomes addicted.

Let’s give an example. On Thursday night I was going to go out with a couple friends in the Castro district, to celebrate the end of midterms. We are warranted right; it’s been a hard week. In college, celebrating always means alcohol, because it seems that we need that in order to have a good time. It is so interesting how casual this idea seems to us, we don’t even realize how instilled this notion had become.  An aquatanice I see at the bar that night, gets to talking about how many drinks he has consumed. So I mention that I only have one drink a night because I have a problem with abusing alcohol. He laughs and says, ” I know what you mean, last year in school I was getting drunk everyday.” At this point I am quite surprised by his answer, because telling someone you have a drinking problem doesn’t seem to be a laughing matter to me. I also think to myself, maybe this guy has a bigger problem than me. Then I say well my counselor told me I should only drink one drink a night. The tone of the conversation totally changes and he says, wow ya if you have a counselor you really must have a problem.

This situation sums up all the things that are wrong with drinking culture around the world. This person was legitmantly drinking everyday to the point of intoxication and he believes that drinking is still a laughing matter. However I have never been to that point. I am trying to be a resposible adult and control my alcohol consumtpion before it gets too out of hand and I am the one with the problem. This shows that we don’t take drinking as serious as we should.

This sitaution showed me that we as a society have so many differnet ideas on what is correct and incoreect about alcohol consumption. So I am going to clear things up with what the experts say.

 The first and most important step is to realize that alcohol is a drug, and it has some serious side effects and consequences. Like alcohol poising, seizures and even death. It can also ruin relationships with friends, and make you loose your job and house. I believe that some people realize this but the next thought that comes into their minds is that can never be me.  According to the article titled, “A Snapshot of Annual High-Risk College Drinking Consequences“, 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 to 24 dies of alchol related causes and 31 percent of college age students have met the criteria for alcohol abuse.  Here is an article called, “What are the dangers of alcohol“, read this article for more information

The second step is to be honest about your realtionship with alcohol and know your limits. Here is a self test to let you know what a healthy relationship with alcohol looks like. On this website, it mentions something very important in the headline, one alcoholic drinks counts as 12 oz of beer, 5 oz of wine and 1.5 oz of hard liquor. Every person can handle a different amount of alcohol for their body weight, gender, and genetics. So it is important to know how many drinks makes you buzzed, tipsy and drunk. A good amount is under the .08 blood alcohol level which is the legal limit for driving. Check  this website out to learn more about blood alcohol levels and the number of drinks that are best for your body.

The third step actually comes down to action. After learning what is the correct limit for yourself, it would be harmless if an action didn’t arise from this knowledge. The most important thing is knowing how many drinks you are going to have before you even set foot in the bar. This makes it easier to stick to your limits if you are aware of it and have made a concious decision to abide by this. I am not saying don’t have fun, because even consuming the correct amount of alcohol can lead to a healthy buzz but without all the conseqences.

The most important thing about alcohol consumption isn’t the age limit but knowing your limits. I believe that every country should have a mandatory alcohol awareness class before they are able to drink. Similar to driver’s education. Until next time.

From the very begining I have been talking about drinking patterns and cultures around the world, namely- because I want to discover the reason behind drinking ages in the world- drinking among our youth culture. It’s not just here in America but everyone wants to drink it seems whether you’re 11 or 25, it’s like alcohol has this pull on us. The thoughts of what alcohol can make us intrigues the cores of our being, I am just gonna say it, it’s seductive! As humans it seems that we all just want the ability to shut our minds off and be carefree so that’s why we turn to things outside ourselves.

I am going to be honest here I love drinking, not just a friendship but I have a serious I love you and want to marry you relationship with alcohol. I love everything from beer to wine to lemon drops and blueberry martinis. And being in college, it’s an easy culture to get into. It’s not as if I particularly enjoy the taste of alcohol but I enjoy what alcohol helps me become. Carefree, on top of the world, bold. I am 19 years old and cannot currently drink legally in America, and trust me before this blog post I would have cut off a toe if that would lower our drinking age. However diving deeper into this complex issue, I am starting to realize that the grass isn’t always greener on the other side. I had this ignorant idea that if drinking age was lower it would stop underage drinking because people would wait until they were of legal age.

After looking into a couple different countries like Italy and Germany who have drinking ages as low as 16, I realized that they still have a problem with underage drinking. Which seems crazy unbelievable to me but youth as young as 11 want to start imbibing. These countries are even talking about raising their drinking ages to 18 because of the amount of young people who have problems alcohol abuse. It seems that Germany’s culture is centered around alcohol, and not in that good way where people become acoustemed to the presence of alcohol and know their limits but in a way people are drinking all day everyday. In Italy things are better because it has more of a sipping culture that accompanies wine with meals but still the youth are starting to take it to the next level.

I am starting to thank our paranoid moms from MADD who enforce the legal drinking age of 21 in America and wonder if even 21 year olds cannot handle the responsibility. I am not going to lie this is a problem that I am apart of as well but I believe the first way to combat this problem across the globe no matter how old you are is to learn. If we can all learn how to handle ourselves while drinking no matter our age I believe that this will be the solution to our problem. I don’t think immaturity is entirely responsible for alcohol abuse, it is just a lack of knowledge. People don’t recognize how powerful a drug alcohol is and how serious the consequences can become. So over the next couple of blog posts I want to show young people what responsible imbibing looks like and shine the light on alcohol abuse and dependency. What better way then to go to the statistics? Until next time guys.

The first thing to come to my mind when I think of Italy is Rome, The Pope, good food, gelato and of course good wine. In my mind Italians are the classy Europeans when it comes to well everything especially drinking. It seems to me that Italians never drink to get drunk and always accompany their drinks with a good amount of pasta. Italians seem to enjoy the the taste of wine and drink  with an air of sensibility.

In the article titled, “A Sip Too Far: Italy Cracks down on Underage Drinking“, Jeff Israely says this about Italian drinking culture.  “Italy has always prided itself on a balanced — even divine — rapport with the strong stuff. Call it a sipping culture rather than a drinking culture: Italians traditionally serve wine at the family dinner table, with boys and girls often getting their first taste of alcohol around age 12..” This part of the article confirms my preconceived notions of Italians and their drinking culture, and I did see this openness but also a  sense of control to drinking when I traveled to Italy.

However Israely goes onto say “The national minimum drinking age of 16 is often ignored and rarely enforced.” He also quotes a Roman pub manager who argues “Lots of young people don’t even know what they’re drinking … They just [want] to get drunk.” The author of this article is trying to say that usually Italians are very refined in their drinking but since the drinking age isn’t enforced young people are starting to drink more recklessly. This makes sense to me because every young person wants to experiment everything life has to offer whether it’s alcohol or skydiving. This is true of all young people regardless of culture, whether you’re Italian or American.

In order to combat this underage drinking the city of Milan is trying to enforce the legal drinking age of 16 years. So now those only 16 years of age and older can buy alcohol and anyone caught supplying alcohol to someone underage or if someone is caught drinking in public who is under 16 will be fined 700 hundred dollars. After the Milan city council passed this legislation, the Italian Prime Minister encouraged other cities to follow Milan’s lead. Which has started in some other other cities now. The hard part about doing this is that it is illegal to ask someone for identification in Italy before being served alcohol. So it’s up to the bar or store decide how old the person looks.

What is this?! I applaud Milan for reacting to a growing problem among its youth but can a Prime Minister really do no more that just recomend that other cities start doing the same? Doesn’t he have the power to make the whole follow this legislation? In addition, coming from an American background where we card people until they are 30, how can there be an actual law not allowing for identification before buying or consuming alcohol? What is the sense of having a drinking age then? If Italy is going to care about it’s youths’ problem with drinking I feel it needs to start taking the problem seriously. Some people are but the problem not everyone feels the same way.

Courtesy of Italian Alcohol Comsumption on the Rise.

Whenever someone mentions the word Ireland, the first things to come to mind are the color green, St.Patrick’s Day and of course drinking.  When I told someone I had my first drink in Ireland, they gave me an “of course you did” kind of look and laughed heartily. They also added wittily, isn’t the drink age like 12 over there? Just for the record the drinking and purchasing age in Ireland is 18 years old, which is two years older than Germany. So where does the assumption come from that Ireland and drinking are one in the same? These are my thoughts about this idea, its not so much the age that affects the Irish love for alcohol, it’s the culture. Also Ireland is one of the finest producers of alcohol with some famous drinks such as Irish Coffee, Jameson Whiskey, Irish Cider and propably the most noteworthy Guinness Stout.

 

Picture courtesy of "The Temple Bar"

In Ireland a beer isn’t just a beer but there’s a whole pub culture behind imbibing. Pub is short for public house which occording to the Compact  Oxford English Dictionary means ‘an establishment for the sale and consumption of beer and other drinks.’ Which is just a fancy term for a comfy place where people like to drink and catch up with friends. Drinking is so interwined in Ireland’s culture that the pubs are open all day long. You can see a good amout of Irish in any given pub during lunch having a pint. Now this is what I like about Irish culture, I feel an openness to alcohol is important. So if young people are exposed to alcohol more regularly , it prevents them from overdoing it when they become of age. However there is a dark side to this openness to alcohol consumption.

When my mother and I were in Ireland, she discussed her overall dislike WITH Ireland’s drinking habits. Every street had mass amounts of broken beer bottles, and pubs and hostels were filled with those old guys that have been drinking the whole day long. The ones that get a little too friendly  and a bit handsy. Another characteristic of Ireland is their utter relaxed attitude about ( it seems to be) everything.  For example if you have any ailment from a back ache to a train being late the typical Irish response is to just have a Guinness. Now all of this may seem like great fun to our younger generation or for those travellers looking for a good time. However it tends to become a problem in Ireland.  According to the article “Ireland’s Alcholic Curse” there are many social problems in Ireland because of alcohol. This article talks about Irish openness to drunkeness instead of just drinking meaning that it is more socially acceptable to drink large amounts of alcohol. However most Irish people , going along with their usual attitude, just shrug it off and say just have another Guinness. The article also mentions these shocking facts, “We now top the European Union league in alcohol expenditure per person and this development has been reflected in weekend binge drinking, addicted youngsters, drunk-driving, late-night street violence and overcrowded accident and emergency hospital wards”. This doesn’t seem like the Ireland I love to visit and I am starting to wonder if MADD are right. We will have to survey more countries to get to the bottom of this.

The Aussies! Where ever they roam there is sure to be big groups and and a good time. When I visited Ireland a few years back there were plenty of Aussies roaming the streets of Dublin. It seemed that they were always together in a big group and even if two Australians didn’t know each other they would treat each other like long lost cousins. Most of the Aussies I  met in Ireland were extroverted and always at the pubs having a good time with their friends. Even an Australian man from The Department of Public Health, Milton Lewis, in his article, “Alcohol in Australia: The intertwining of social and personal histories” admits that ” Like most Australian men of my generation, I grew up with an understanding that alcohol and cigarettes were a ritual of manhood and subsequently went through my student days and into my early adulthood drinking heavily.” From this experience, in my mind, Australia had a reputation for drinking and a good time, however I was surprised to find out this isn’t the case….

The drinking age in Australia is 18 years however minors can drink legally in private homes with parent permission.

In her blog called “C’est Christine” an American woman visits Australia and tells of her experience in the country  while working as a bartender. In her blog post on March 31, 2o11 called “The Australian Alcohol Conundrum”  she talks about her similar expectations to mine. When she arrived in Australia she still saw pubs filled with Aussies and a good amount of imbibing. What surprised however was the expensive drink prices and the overall lack of drunk people in bars. After taking her required six hour alcohol education course to become a bartender, Christine learned a bit more about the Australian drinking culture.  What surprised her was the stricter rules of imbibing in Australia because of her preconceived notions that Australian had a relaxed drinking culture. First of all the limits placed on driving while under the influence are less leaninte. In the United States our legal limit is .08 Blood Alcohol Content but in Australia the legal limit is .05. Remember how I said beer is as cheap as water in Germany, well not in Australia. The Australian government doesn’t allow specials on alcohol or drinking games in bars to prevent people from getting too drunk and causing trouble. This is because Australia has a big problem with binge drinking among young people, the prime minister even said that binge drinking problems were at epidemic levels. So he put 53 million dollars in a campaign to combat this national problem. Also in Australia a bar can be severely fined if they serve an intoxicated person, 11, 000 dollars to be precise. Christine has experienced these restrictions while working in a bar in Australia, for example they have heavy security in bars to make sure things don’t get too out of hand and they  also have to be careful about serving people who are intoxicated.

http://vittoriobloggs.files.wordpress.com/2011/04/kangaroo-drinking-beer.gif

These rules are so strict because drinking is a big part of Australian culture and is present at almost every outing. For example for a girls night out you need a bottle of wine, for a sporting game you need cans of beer and if you don’t drink people become suspicious of you. Therefore binge drinking has become a big problem in this country and is now being dealt with. So that is why when young Australians go out and travel they let loose because they have a chance to experience nightlife without all these rules. It must be hard to have alcohol be such an inherent part of your culture but not have your laws match that mentality. Our young people in America also do this  but it seems different because alcohol is more shunned in our community.

I couldn’t do a blog about drinking and not include Germany because it ranks fifth in the top heaviest drinking nations and also because it has a special law toward drinking that is found in very few places. So in honor of Oktoberfest this weekend in San Francisco, let’s put on our lederhosen and dive into Germany.

I titled this post “Beer as Cheap as Water” because it really is in Germany and this has a huge affect on drinking culture. If an alcoholic beverage is the same price as water that means that it is readily available because it is treated like a soda. For example here in the Unites States a pint or bottle of beer is about 5 dollars at the least and (if you are going to a Giant’s game) 10 dollars at the most( and yes we do have our dollar beer night for our college students but that is only one night a week). As opposed to water and other non alcoholic beverages which are about 1 to 3 dollars at the most. We do this in our country because for the average American ,  it makes consumers think that alcohol is something to be limited because it isn’t cheap to buy.  So this makes consumers think about their alcohol consumption even if it is just because of price which limits their level of intoxication. For example maybe an average American will have a 15 dollar limit for alcohol for one night which buys them about 3 drink, now if that person had the same limit but alcohol was 2 dollars a bottle that would buy him seven drinks which will get the average person under the legal limit. Therefore the Germans treat alcohol much more commonly than we do here which means they consume more alcohol.

According to an article titled, “The Highs and Lows of Germany’s Drinking Culture”, this is one of the contributing factors to Germany’s problem with alcohoism. Also in Germany alcohol it isn’t illegal for alcohol to be consumed in public places like subways and parks; it is also sold in almost every local place from newspaper stands to coffee shops. Recent Data says that in Germany 1.7 million people need alcohol treatment and 2.7 million use alcohol in a harmful way. This is out of Germany’s 88 million people. As opposed to The United States which has a population of 300 million people and there are 7.91 million people dependent on alcohol and need treatment.

Now let’s get to the second part of why Germany is important because of its different law for alcohol consumption. In Germany there are two different drinking ages depending on the alcohol proof; 16 years for beer and wine and 18 years for spirits ( hard liquor). There has been some talk  about changing Germany’s drinking age to 18  because alcohol is such a problem for the country but this will be quite a shock for citizens. Therefore people agree that Germany needs a comprehensive approach on alcohol to change the drinking culture.

 

This picture was taken right after a sucker was taken from this child's mouth. Picture courtesy of Ginny Atkins Photography

I also found an interesting blog from an American woman who has been visiting Germany and researching the alcohol consumption culture there. The blog is titled, “The drinking culture in Germany”  and in her most recent post on May 26,2008 she in her blog post titled, “You Will  Always Want What You Can’t Have” she brings up an interesting point on underage drinking in Germany. Coming from The United States where the drinking age is 21 year the author of this blog thought the drinking age in Germany was really low. Therefore she figured that there wouldn’t be any underage drinking  in Germany, however she was surprised to find out kids under the age of 16 still want to drink and do so at private house parties for the thrill of it. Since alcohol is illegal for these kids they have the urge to drink because of that. She then tied this to the drinking age in the United States and thought what is the sense of lowering the drinking age in the US if this same situation could potentially be the case for us as well. I believe this is a good issue to bring up, and it surprised me that people under the age of 16 drink in Germany. However this is always going to be an issue for humans because it is a human condition, whether you are 16 or 25 people always want what they can’t have whether it is alcohol or designer shoes. I think it is a good point to consider but we shouldn’t not lower the drinking age because of this but maybe have a higher punishment for underage drinking?

The next region that I am going to explore is the Middle East, by looking at a different point of view we can get some perspective on the drinking age in the US. Most Middle Eastern countries practice Islam-some countries even make this religion their law- and in Islam consuming alcohol is a sin. The countries in the Middle East where alcohol isn’t illegal have a drinking age of 20 – 21 years old. Some countries have different laws for Muslims and Non Muslims.Though I would love to go through every Middle Eastern  Country in this blog post I fear you wouldn’t read it if I did. So I am going to explain three countries that represent three ways of thinking about drinking in the Middle East which will give a good idea the issue in this area.

Iran: In the forum called, “Alcohol in Muslim/ Middle Eastern Countries” I found some information about alcohol laws in the Middle East and have used some of my own knowledge as well. Iran is ruled under theocracy meaning that Islam delegates the law. So that means alcohol is strictly forbidden. The punishment for having alcohol on you or being drunk is lashes. Now it is possible to procure this illegal juice from other countries but this is deffinately an underground process. The mindset that surrounds drinking in Iran is this, people who drink are alcoholics and lower class people. Those people known to have had a drink or been drunk are looked down upon because this is a pretty big sin. Countries with this similar mentality : Saudi Arabia, Libya, Sudan, Tunisia.

Based on the United Nations Global Rape Statistic for 2002 the  Sexual Assault Rate for 100,000 people is:

Saudi Arabia: .27, Azerbijan .48, Morocco 3.42

Keep in mind though that these countries have a history of not reporting as many rapes.

India: Although India’s primary religion isn’t Islam, it has very similar attitudes toward drinking. The minimum drinking age in India is 21 years but according to “India:Alcohol in a Changing Women’s Culture”, India has among the bottom 15 percent in alcohol consumption for the past 4o years. This is because in the Brahmans religion, people who are in highers castes are forbidden to drink. It seems that those in lower classes have also followed suit and adopted this custom as well. In this article is also says that women are less likely to consume alcohol than men which is a common practice in the Middle East. I believe this is because consuming alcohol is better handled by people who are heavier which tends to be men, and drinking alcohol also seems to be associated with manliness.

According to Nationmaster Sexual Assault rate for India is 1.431 per 100,000 people for the year 2000.

Turkey: Since Turkey borders the European Union it has picked up many western philosophies even though it is a Muslim country. For example alcohol is not illegal in Turkey and the minimum drinking age is 18 years which is very similar to the drinking age in some European countries. People usually drink more heavily in big cities that attract tourists like Ankara, Istanbul, and Izmir. Also drinking is very popular in beach resorts and in fancy hotels. In these places drinking culture is very similar to that of Europe. However in smaller farm villages and in the eastern part of the country drinking isn’t as popular but is still legal. Countries in the Middle East with similar laws: Pakistan, and Egypt.

According to Nationmaster Turkey has a Sexual Assault Rate of 1.808 per 100,000 people for the year 2000.

The battle has been here for ages it seems at least one kid in every generation asks “Why is the drinking age in America 21?” and then ” every where else in the world has a drinking age of 18″ seems to follow.  To those that are offically adults it seems unfair to have to wait until their 21rst birthday. So they don’t. This leads to underage drinking and usually recklessness.  Which brings up the two sides of the battle 1) is it better to have a higher drinking age and have most people underage drink illegally behind the scences or 2) should we lower the drinking age and just allow those who want to drink to do so in public so they don’t have to hide it. From the outside it seems that those in Europe and other countries are more relaxed about drinking which prevents youth from getting drunk because drinking is normalized. However is that really true? In this blog I am here to answer that question by looking at each individual country’s date rape rates, percentage of alcoholics, marriage/ divorce rates etc to see if  a lower drinking age is the best for our country. I am here to crack open the case and get to the bottom of the issue one country at a time.

So let’s start with the good old home county, The United States. Let’s start by getting some history on the topic, in the article titled,” Why is the drinking age 21” author Ethan Trex explains why the drinking age was changed from 18 to 21 years. In 1984 there was a law called National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 which stated that if states allowed persons under 21 to imbibe they would loose a great deal of federal funding for their highways. This didn’t prevent those who are under 21 from drinking but just from possessing and posesing alcohol in public. The reasoning behind changing choosing 21 as a good age to be able to drink came from English common law centuries ago. At the time this was the age that a person could vote and become a knight so it seemed appropriate he could drink then too. During World War II the drinking age in the United States was lowered to 18 because people thought it was unfair that men could be drafted at the age of 18 but couldn’t drink. So the 21rst amendment was added by FDR which gave the decision to individual states. Therefore some states lowered their drinking age to 18 but others still kept the drinking age 21. So those young people under 21 who lived in these states would trek the journey to the more lenitant states so they could imbibe legally. Now after their night these people still had to get home which caused a lot of traffic accidents. This is why today the drinking age is 21 because organizations like MADD- Mothers Agnaist Drunk Driving- fought for a uniform national drinking age to prevent these car accidents and keep alcohol away from immature 18 year olds. I believe this article brings up many valid points, after looking into the issues history it seems that these laws weren’t made to protect young adults but were just arbitrary laws. For example the National Minimum Drinking Age Act of 1984 was passed so that states wouldn’t loose their federal funding and the age 21 was chosen because centuries ago in English common law 21 was the age of knighthood. The United Kingdom doesn’t even enforce that law today in their country. However MADD also brings up a good point in their questionaire, “Why 21″.  A common counter argument to the American drinking age being too high is that Europe has everything under control because they have lowered their drinking age to 18 which normalizes drinking. MADD counters and say that Europe has more problems with rape, injury, intoxication and school problems due to alcohol. That’s the purpose of this blog to see which way of thinking is correct or more supported by the facts.