The recent Four Loko bans make it seem as though underage drinking is an out-of-control problem. Like other social problems, a few incidents in the press can make it seem things are out of hand. However, one has to wonder if the problem is as big as the media make it seem.
Teen drinking is actually not that pervasive
Given the press coverage, especially of the perils of drinking caffeinated alcoholic beverages like Four Loko, aimed at young people, the idea is that teens and college students are all one step away from needing a liver transplant. As it turns out, according to the Centers for Disease Control, 70 percent of “binge drinking” or consuming more than four drinks in a two-hour period, is actually done by people older than 26. The CDC also reports that only 42 percent of high school students surveyed actually drank at all, and only 24 percent engaged in binge drinking. Granted, events like the Central Washington University students being hospitalized are tragic, but young people aren’t drinking as heavily as it could be assumed.
Americans are lightweights
According to the World Health Organization, the U.S. is actually cutting back. In a 2004 report on world alcohol consumption, Americans have actually reduced their drinking by almost 10 percent since 1976. Furthermore, Americans drank a modest 8.9 liters of alcohol (pure alcohol consumed, not merely wine or beer or spirits) per annum, compared to the liver destroying 15.15 liters per year in Slovenia. A 2004 report from Kirin Holdings reported American beer consumption is a woeful 81.6 liters per year per person. The Czech Republic, first on the list, drank a Herculean 156 liters per year, and the Irish, second world wide, drink more than 131 liters per year. Bear in mind that most American “beer” is pale, yellow, fizzy and has a flavor that could one day aspire to being labeled pathetic.
Call a cab and stop whining
In reality, the underage children of America are drinking far less than the adults. Furthermore, Americans in general drink far less than the rest of the world. Perhaps it’s time to make sure our children know how to be responsible, rather than be ashamed.