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Monthly Archives: December 2011

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 🙂