Home » News » Texas TABC and Food Safety » Alcohol education crucial for college students

Alcohol education crucial for college students

Alcohol education crucial for college students
Source: The Daily Illini
November 1, 2012
In two separate instances in the past week, students from Rice University and Washington State University have been subject to alcohol poisoning. Currently the Texas Alcohol and Beverage Commission are investigating an annual party on the Rice University campus in which 11 students ended up in the hospital due to alcohol poisoning.
In another incident, a Washington State University freshman who was subject to alcohol poisoning was found dead in his dorm room last weekend.
The majority of these students were underage.
For a while, there has been much controversy over the legal drinking age: Some feel that it should be lowered from 21 to 18.
The reality for many young adults, especially those on college campuses, is that the consumption of alcohol and introduction to drinking culture is all too familiar long before they reach the age of 21. Many are introduced to drinking as early as middle school. And while the age limit is set to prevent incidents like those that took place at WSU and Rice, the current law is clearly not effective.
On this campus in particular, events and holidays such as Homecoming, Halloween and Unofficial – which is not supported or condoned by the university – inevitably encourages students to participate in a drinking culture. While participation in drinking is heightened during these times, let us remember that the opportunity is always knocking on the doors of students. After all, a person only has to be 19 to enter the local bars in Campustown.
Many similar scenarios play out on college campuses around the country, and they even affect many middle schools and high schools. It seems as if the legal drinking age is not hindering or suppressing the issue of underage drinking. In fact, many of our problems might be reduced if the age was lowered to 18.
This is an infamous case of “damned if you do, damned if you don’t.”
Although the age is set to help control the negative effects of underage drinking, it just seems to have no benefit. And while it is thought someone who is 21 will drink more responsibly, this is also seemingly untrue.
In the most recent fact sheet on annual college drinking consequences from collegedrinkingprevention.gov, it was noted that over 3 million college students between the ages of 18 and 24 drive under the influence of alcohol, and nearly 600,000 are unintentionally injured while intoxicated. The report also mentioned that nearly 2,000 students die from alcohol-related incidents.
The buck did not stop there.
To think that drinking related problems are stifled by the drinking limit of 21 is not true, just like it’s not necessarily true to think that drinking is uncommon amongst those as young as 12. The 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health reported that of youth between the ages of 12 to 20, nearly 25 percent drink alcohol. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that excessive alcohol consumption results in more than 4,700 deaths of underage drinkers each year.
A high legal drinking age is not suppressing the issue of underage drinking, but encouraging this behavior. People tend to desire what is considered taboo and if the drinking age is lowered to 18, many young adults will not have to sneak to drink, thus preventing obnoxious consumption. The excitement and thrill of breaking the rules causes some to go overboard, which results in incidents like those at Rice and WSU.
What many fail to realize is that the age of these young students is not what causes these problems, but the lack of insufficient knowledge and improper handling of alcohol. While many argue that lowering the drinking age will cause more damage and alcohol related incidents, age is not a real deterrent to drinking.
In fact, lawmakers and parents – the latter being the most important – should strive to put more emphasis on alcohol education and properly teaching youth not only about the dangers and consequences of drinking, but how to do so safely and responsibly. While parents and lawmakers would probably prefer that young people not drink at all, it is not realistic. Instead of beating them over the head with consequences, proper education about safe alcohol use will allow drinkers to practice safe consumption when they do decide to drink.
Because let’s face it, people are going to continue to drink whether they are over 21 or 12.
In the end, it is neither age nor law which makes a person responsible, but it is instead up to the individual themselves