Archive for Tuesday, September 2, 2008

Still No. 1

Although it’s legal for adults, alcohol still is the No. 1 problem drug in America.

September 2, 2008


At least 40 years ago, Kansas University experts such as the late Dr. Raymond Schwegler stressed that for every emergency caused by a student using illegal drugs, there were 14 or 15 more because of the intake of alcohol.

Clearly, that hasn't changed.

"We talk often about the various 'drugs', such as LSD, and the negative impact they can make on our society, but we overlook the fact that alcohol is just as much a 'drug' and is far more invasive and abused than anything else, because it is so easily accessible," Schwegler told a Journal-World staff member.

There have been a spate of articles recently about whether to lower the legal drinking age from 21 to 18, and proponents in both camps make some convincing arguments. But whatever the age limit, we are reminded that for all the fears about cocaine, heroin, crack and other illegal substances, alcohol remains the No. 1 problem "drug" in America. Abuse of alcohol by young people only reinforces the need to alter the scene.

Sharon Jayson of USA Today recently wrote an article that began: "College students today celebrate 21st birthdays with an average of 12 drinks for men and nine for women, (according to) the most in-depth picture yet of the consequence of extreme partying. The University of Texas research found 78 percent of students cited ill effects, including hangovers (54 percent). Of the 44 percent who had blackouts 22 percent found out later they had sex, and 22 percent got into fight or argument. And 39 percent didn't know how they got home."

Terribly frightening is the admission by subjects in the Texas survey that 40 percent of them admitted driving after drinking in the past three months. That percentage is on the increase and we are aware of its impact because of some tragic accidents in the Lawrence area.

We always get back to whether the drinking age should be 18 or 21. Recently, a number of college and university leaders have endorsed the idea of lowering the drinking age to 18, a move they hope would decrease abusive drinking among students. To its credit, Kansas University has decided not to jump on the bandwagon, at least for now.

On that subject, psychology professor Kim Fromme who directed the Texas study says: "If we're talking about drinking and driving, dropping the age is a bad idea. If we're talking about decreasing the alcohol consumed by occasion, we're less certain."

Disaster? It's always on the table staring at drinkers, regardless of their age or the amount of alcohol involved. It takes only one drink too many to kill or maim. What is that limit?

We are so accustomed to alcoholic beverages being easily available, we sometimes forget the devastating problem they can pose. It's important to remember that even though it is legal, alcohol remains the No. 1 "drug" in America.


OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 8 months ago

"Furthermore, fewer violent crimes are committed under the influence of alcohol vs., say, meth."There is NO WAY that is a true statement. Look at the local crime blotters and count how many domestic battery charges are filed each week in Lawrence. I garantee you that each of those charges is alcohol related, as are most simple assualt/battery type charges.Your comments are the whole problem. Yesterday's OTS had an 18 year old say that they were going to drink for the holiday, and then "see where it goes from there". No one responded to that statement. Alcohol is a serious, prevalent and easily abused addictive substance that we simply "accept".The problem is about folks like Solomon who cannot see the contradictions in their own words as they live in denial about the impact of this drug. In Solomon's own words, the LJW is making the point "in anticipation of the alcohol-related incidents associated with that particular population." Solomon doesn't even debate whether or not there will or won't be alcohol-related problems; but rather, just like the editorialist, he knows to expect problems - very real problems - around alcohol with our college students. But, unlike the editorialist, Solomon would rather not speak out against it.Solomon's own contradictions tell the whole story. We all know we have a problem, but some of us cannot stand it when the problem is exposed for what it really is. Some of us cope by saying that the [obvious] problem really isn't a problem. We are an entire society in denial. In defense of Solomon, he's just one of us. He has drunk from the same well of "denial Cool-Aid" that we are all drinking from.

hujiko 9 years, 8 months ago

Dear Solomon,Alcohol has consistently been the cause of more deaths than all illegal drugs combined, you cannot say that it isnt a problem if it causes more deaths than say, meth.

cowboy 9 years, 8 months ago

Alcohol is the number one drug issue in America. Plain and simple. One only need to witness the daily destruction of families , individuals to validate the thought. Look at the arrest logs each day and 75% are OUI's. While I have been no angel in my earlier years as I have gotten older I am concerned that the average person cannot make it through a day or week without adding a chemical to thier bodies.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 8 months ago

"My comments are NOT the whole problem, and to say so is simply stupid."Of course, if my statements about denial are true, this would be the classic response.

Pro_Counsel 9 years, 8 months ago

Solomon (Anonymous) says:"Furthermore, fewer violent crimes are committed under the influence of alcohol vs., say, meth."You seem somewhat short on the wisdom of your namesake.Approximately 36% of convicted offenders were under the influence of alcohol when they committed their offense.One study found that in over half of murders, either the perpetrator or the victim were under the influence. In over a third of cases, both were.Forty percent of incarcerated murderers report alcohol as being a factor in their crime.Nearly 60% of convicted inmates reported regular drinking during the year prior to their offense.We won't even get into the drunk-driving related fatalities, suicides, people who literally drink themselves to death, or the wrecked lives of the survivors.

jonas 9 years, 8 months ago

"College students today celebrate 21st birthdays with an average of 12 drinks for men and nine for women, (according to) the most in-depth picture yet of the consequence of extreme partying."Amateurs. Oldenuff: Ceallach did call that kid's comment out for questioning.

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 8 months ago

You know, when I saw that comment, I couldn't help but wonder if the cops did or didn't knock on his door that day. If I had posted "I'm going to spend the day doing an illegal drug" and had given my full name with a photo, don't you think the cops would have considered paying me a visit? For an 18 year old, spending the day drinking is illegal. But, most would say "Leave him alone" or "I'll drink to that".

Confrontation 9 years, 8 months ago

The real problem is that people who call themselves "adults" can't have a social function without involving alcohol. Barbeque, alcohol. Church picnic, alcohol. Dinner, alcohol. When will people grow up and realize that you can be adults without having to drink at every opportunity? I know you'll explain it as "teaching your children to drink responsibly." Yeah, right. You're only teaching your children that alcohol is necessary to have fun. What do you think they'll do in college to have fun?

OldEnuf2BYurDad 9 years, 8 months ago

"the reason there are few murders to control alcohol turf is because alcohol is legal"Great comment. One of America's most notorious criminals was Al Capone, whose primary enterprise was selling booze. He's the "gansta" model that our crack-selling inner-city gang-bangers idolize. He's the archetype for today's druglord. The reason why every city had a "Capone" in the 30's was because of prohibition. Once prohibition was removed, that segment of drug-dealing became corporate and civilized. However, much of the impact remains: destroyed lives, drunk-driver fatalities, abused children, etc.

tangential_reasoners_anonymous 9 years, 8 months ago

AS: "Let's just get rid of all these laws...."This would certainly solve the crime problem.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 8 months ago

The only reason more people don't freak out about alcohol consumption in this country is the fact that the people in power probably drink, themselves. If they couldn't tolerate the alcohol consumption in this country, then they couldn't tolerate themselves.

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 8 months ago

By the way, whatcha all got in Still No. 2? Oh nevermind.

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