Alcohol

How Can You Have Your Pudding If You Don't Drink Your Wine?

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Writing in Time, John Cloud notes that "the U.S. seems to be in the midst of one of its periodic alcohol panics, this one focused on adolescents," even though drinking by teenagers has been declining since the early 1990s. "The data indicate there are fewer young drinkers," Cloud writes, "but a greater proportion of them are hard-core drinkers." He blames "the all-or-nothing approach to alcohol" that prevails in the United States and makes the case for "the Southern European model of moderate, supervised drinking within families":

The way to produce fewer problem drinkers is to create more drinkers overall—that is, to begin to create a culture in which alcohol is not an alluring risk but part of quotidian family life….There's evidence that drinking with your kids—not buying them alcohol for a party but actually drinking with them at home—is a good way to teach responsible drinking behavior.

In one study, for example, teenagers who drank with their parents (as opposed to getting alcohol from their parents for unsupervised parties) "were about half as likely to say they had drunk alcohol in the past month and about one-third as likely to say they had had five or more drinks in a row in the previous two weeks." The researchers concluded that "drinking with parents appears to have a protective effect on general drinking trends."

But Cloud notes that "social host laws," which hold adults criminally responsible for underage drinking on their property, discourage the modeling of temperate drinking. He laments that "we are encouraging kids to leave their homes (presumably by car) and drink in parks or abandoned warehouses or anywhere else they think they won't get caught and their parents won't get arrested."

The article, which quotes addiction psychologist and reason contributor Stanton Peele (who pointed it out to me), is worth reading in full, not least for the calm, measured tone we have not come to expect from newsweeklies on subjects like this.

I discussed zero tolerance and the "underage drinking epidemic" in a 2002 column.

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  1. Another epidemic? Yawn . . .

  2. Who is this John Cloud fellow and why does he still have a job? Fear sells.

  3. Guys in my highschool used to drink with their parents all the time, it was no big deal.

  4. Somebody hunt down and kill “Josh”.

  5. Sometimes they’d even drink with the teachers.

  6. “but a greater proportion of them are hard-core drinkers.”

    And the lazy remainder just aren’t trying.

    Next epidemic please?

  7. Josh,

    Is the thinner curse from the last thread taking effect yet?

  8. I wonder how much the British kids are drinking as they deal with the recession?

    Ah! The latest epidemic is the misuse of the word “recession”!

  9. No, but I suddenly have really, really bad acne…

  10. I think the real conclusion that can be drawn from this is that there just aren’t as many cool kids anymore.

  11. You guys clearly don’t get the point. If they let kids drink at home with their parents, there would be a lot fewer drunk drivers and dead kids out there now wouldn’t there? If that happened, how in the hell are we supposed to justify lower BAH levels, more random sobriety check points, and mandatory breathalyzers attached to all cars? Jesus, you people really are thick sometimes.

  12. John, that would be valid except that drunk driving has been drastically reduced since MADD started and they’re still pushing for more. I guarantee you that if we got it down to one drunk driving fatality a year, MADD would be busy pushing for checkpoints every 50 feet.

  13. Why are people cribbing frat stud comments from ATL? That’s the second time I’ve seen that this week.

  14. If that happened, how in the hell are we supposed to justify lower BAH levels, more random sobriety check points, and mandatory breathalyzers attached to all cars?

    Wouldn’t they just point to the reductions as “proof” that the policies are working and that if they get even stricter they will work more?

    Here in Chicago, I try to read the local papers as often as I can. I have noticed an up tick in the number of articles warning about the horrors of Binge Drinking by college kids and young adults (21-28 Y.O.s) (BTW the definition on “binge” is a real hoot. It is basically the way everyone I knew in college drank) and how its very dangerous and becoming a problem that people are drinking to “catch a buzz” or to “get drunk”.

    I read these articles and all I can think “young adults drink to get drunk? — where’s the fucking news??”

  15. “BTW the definition on “binge” is a real hoot. It is basically the way everyone I knew in college drank”

    Tom I have seen articles quoting experts who claimed that anyone who has more than four drinks in one sitting is a “binge drinker”. You don’t have to relive your glory days to be a binge drinker. It is their way to bring back prohibition. They can’t ban alcohol, but they can make it a crime to have more than one drink and mask it as ending “binge drinking”.

  16. For the record, I often have more than four drinks at a sitting and God damn it I need every one of them.

  17. Maybe we need to pass a law to eliminate this epidemic. I know, why don’t we raise the drinking age to 21? Then no one under 21 will drink, ever. Upon attaining the magic age, they will magically know how to drink. This is because obviously the best way to learn something is to be completely shielded from it.

  18. For the record, I often have more than four drinks at a sitting and God damn it I need every one of them.

    I have just one: the whole bottle.

  19. In Wisconsin, you can drink at a bar with your parents as long as you are at least 18. Also, if your wife is over 18 and you are over 21, your wife can drink with you.

    125.07(1)(a)1.
    1. No person may procure for, sell, dispense or give away any alcohol beverages to any underage person not accompanied by his or her parent, guardian or spouse who has attained the legal drinking age.

    125.07(1)(a)2.
    2. No licensee or permittee may sell, vend, deal or traffic in alcohol beverages to or with any underage person not accompanied by his or her parent, guardian or spouse who has attained the legal drinking age.

    I think that is quite reasonable.

  20. Tom I have seen articles quoting experts who claimed that anyone who has more than four drinks in one sitting is a “binge drinker”.

    John, not to try to one-up you, but I have seen some articles where they call it binge drinking if one is drinking with the intent of getting drunk quickly.

    As if there is any other reason/way to drink?

    For the record, I often have more than four drinks at a sitting and God damn it I need every one of them.

    For the record, if someone isn’t having 4+ drinks at a sitting, why bother? 🙂

  21. My solution? Driving age 21, drinking age 16. With gas prices that may not be so hard to accomplish and it would produce more responsible consumption over time. In Germany I saw many 16 year olds drinking “cola beers” (yuck) with friends in the pubs. No beer bongs or shots or out of control behavior.

  22. I wouldn’t have suspected you of drinking 40 ouncers, Episiarch. Now I can’t get this image of you wearing a wife beater with your pants sagging below your ass out of my head.

  23. I have seen articles quoting experts who claimed that anyone who has more than four drinks in one sitting is a “binge drinker”.

    I’ve seen that same definition.
    The question is, what constitutes a sitting? I don’t sit down and drink 4 drinks – I usually carry them around and flirt a bit, or bowl, or something.

  24. As I’ve grown up I’ve noticed a similar phenomenon with not only alcohol but other drugs, but it might only apply to small town and/or suburban kids. The sheltered kids who don’t try anything until college get overwhelmed and get in trouble, while the kids who try things younger tend to “grow up with it” and end up more responsible adults.

  25. hekk,

    We have the same laws in Mississippi and 10 out of 10 times we just laugh at them and call security to kick the underage buffon and his dad out of the casino.

  26. Somebody hunt down and kill “Josh”.

    Epi, I kinda like hearing about the kids in Josh’s old neighborhood.

    It’ no big deal.

  27. “In Wisconsin, you can drink at a bar with your parents as long as you are at least 18. Also, if your wife is over 18 and you are over 21, your wife can drink with you.”

    See, this is good information to know. I am moving to Wisconsin. At the taverns I frequent here in Ohio, my 38-year-old self constantly gets disapproving looks from other patrons when I walk in with my 18-year-old Russian bride. And frankly, I am sick of it.

  28. Dammit! That “it’s no big deal” crap is spreading like herpes!

  29. I wouldn’t have suspected you of drinking 40 ouncers, Episiarch. Now I can’t get this image of you wearing a wife beater with your pants sagging below your ass out of my head.

    If I’m drinking 40s, I’ll be drinking the whole bottle several times.

    I don’t wear a shirt, dude. And what pants?

  30. Episiarch,

    You rebel, you!

  31. How Can You Have Your Pudding If You Don’t Drink Your Wine Mead?

    Sounds better my way 😉

  32. Beowulf,

    Shakespearean . . . I like it too.

  33. With all of these epidemics, how is it that all of the children aren’t dead yet? Speaking as someone who hates children, I find it greatly upsetting that they unwittingly cause draconian measures on my life, all while not actually dying in huge numbers like they are supposed to.

  34. So you hate puppies as well 😉

  35. Jeez, I thought I was bad with the tags.

    Let’s see if this helps:

  36. I kind of laughed the first time I heard that “more than three drinks at a sitting” definition of binge drinking.

    I like the then current British definition which was pretty much “getting drunk and staying that way for two days or more.”

    At one time the Brits did seem to have a more sensible approach to vices like smoking and drinking but I think they are adopting the American way more and more.

  37. I hate puppies.

  38. Puppies . . . the true enemy of mankind.

  39. I hate rainbows too.

  40. “the Southern European model of moderate, supervised drinking within families”

    True of Jewish families all over. Few Jews are alcoholics [citation needed].

    Alternate explanation is Woody Allen’s: “Jews don’t drink, because it dulls the pain.”

  41. I’m in Southern Europe right now (Nice, France), and can report that whatever model of drinking they have here, it works great. The amount of trouble I’ve seen here from alcohol is exactly zero, even though a couple of hours ago I and my friends downed two bottles of (glass) champagne on the (pebble) beach.

  42. ChrisV

    Make sure you go to the bistro below where Garibaldi was born and have a drink for freedom.

    Then have one for me.

  43. I hate puppies.
    I hate rainbows too.

    Good to know. No worries about Guy showing up to Rainbow Puppy Island.

  44. It is 4:30 on a Friday afternoon. I may have to give this binge drinking thing a try.

  45. What, American or British style? 🙂

  46. I am an anglophile. British all the way.

  47. Shakespearean . . . I like it too.

    And Floydian. Nice one, B.

    I’m in Southern Europe right now (Nice, France),

    I loved Nice. The nicest French people I met. Great food. Topless chicks at the beach. What’s not to love?

  48. Nice. The nicest

    I wish I’d said that.

  49. And Floydian. Nice one, B.

    Thanks, I’m surprise no one commented on it earlier.

  50. robc,

    I am creating Rainbow Puppy Island for a purpose that may not be apparent in its title.

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