Getting the Debate out in the Open: The Amethyst Initiative

In July 2008, 100 college and university presidents and system chancellors decided to sign a petition to say that although the drinking age is 21, irresponsible drinking continues, and is prevalent on college campuses. That despite having the drinking age of 21, there is developing a dangerous culture of binge drinking on college campuses from Olympia to Miami. These higher education leaders are pushing the initiative to have political leaders look at the current alcohol policies, and weigh the consequences. They are interested in bringing the drinking age down to 18.

I’m not a parent, I’ll admit that. I have seen the effects of binge drinking. Been part of the autopsies of drunk driving victims. I’m an alcohol researcher right now, looking at metabolite levels after consumption. I’m interested in what you think. What would come of us lowering the drinking age to 18? Would it be better or worse? Why? What purpose would it serve?

Would it really combat the binge drinking? Or make it worse? Federal tax dollars are pulled from states that have a lower drinking age, it’s a transportation issue, predominantly. Current studies show that 1 out of 4 current undergraduates at major universities will binge drink at least once in their collegiate career. The smaller universities it could be worse, the study didn’t say.

The Amethyst Initiative

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3 Responses to “Getting the Debate out in the Open: The Amethyst Initiative”

  1. geekhiker Says:

    It’s an interesting question (especially at a time when other groups are pushing to raise the driving age). My personal, off-the-cuff thought is that it wouldn’t make that much difference. Binge drinking isn’t an age issue, it’s a cultural issue. An idiot who is 20 years, 263 days old isn’t going to be suddenly smarter and more responsible about his drinking two days later. So long as consuming large quantities of alcohol is marketed as a gateway to fun and pleasure, I’m not too sure how much age comes into play…

  2. pandemonic Says:

    If they do that, they should also raise the driving age to 18.

    As you know what industry we are in, M, we were part of a conference where the NHTSA gave a report on the minds of adolescents. Teenagers do not develop a good brain connection until right around 25. Yet, we let them drive at 16 and drink at 21.

    I’m not sure about lowering the age. When I came of age, it was legal for me at 18. I think raising it to 21 gave it an allure that wasn’t there when I turned 18. I wasn’t at all interested in drinking then. Maybe that’s why.

  3. Typ0 Says:

    The drinking age in Ontario, where i grew up, is 19. Next door, in the province of Quebec you can drink at 18. Basically what that means is that people take the train to Montreal to celebrate their 18th birthdays in style.

    Lowering the drinking age doesn’t stop kids from binge drinking, but it does it out of their systems sooner. Or maybe it just gives the folks who make fake IDs a new challenge. Or maybe there is no easy answer.

    I would be curious; however, to see the stats on binge and underage drinking in european countries where the age limit is lower and there is far less of a mystique behind getting into a bar and ordering a bevvie.

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