In It For Health

Where health and psychology intersect

Archive for August, 2008

Amethyst update

Posted by Dr. Susan on August 26, 2008

Here’s a great article  from Slate Mag. taking a look at the Amethyst Initiative!

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Should the drinking age be lowered? I don’t think so!

Posted by Dr. Susan on August 19, 2008

A movement, called the Amethyst Initiative, which was begun by university presidents, that has just now come to public awareness, asks that the drinking age be lowered to 18 as a way to end binge drinking on college campuses. If you read  their point of view, you might be think it sounds logical…the premise is that college kids binge drink because drinking is taboo. So if we take away that element, they’ll stop doing binge drinking and begin to sip alcohol responsibly like forty-year olds. Sorry, I don’t buy it! With this logic, perhaps we should just lower the drinking age to 14, so that high-school kids would also stop drinking too much or stop going on binges that land them in hospital ER’s every weekend.

But seriously, let’s not forget that raising the drinking age has drastically reduced the number of teens who drink and the number of drunk driving accidents amongst teens. the Amethyst Initiative is a cop-out! How about if college presidents spend a little more time actually making sure that the students on their campuses are safe, rather than blaming the problem on state regulations. Perhaps they should spend more time educating students, of binge drinking  which has been shown to be effective in reducing binge-drinking, and more time on monitoring the activities of fraternities and other groups that encourage binge drinking.

The reality is that some teens will drink too much when they go to college because it is part of the right of passage of leaving home and exerting their independence. They would do this regardless of the drinking age. However, research shows that the teen brain is not fully developed and doesn’t become so until after twenty-one. The areas of good judgment and impulse control are the last to mature. Lowering the drinking age will only give teens and young adults greater access to alcohol, during a time when they are not yet mature enough to make good decisions. The fact that they are already binge drinking is already proof of this!

As adults we always encourage kids to take responsibility for their own behavior. I encourage university presidents to take this same stand about their universities, rather than blaming the problem on the drinking age.

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