Wednesday, April 3, 2013

I've been researching what effects the legal drinking age has on a person's relationship with alcohol. As it turns out, there is some good research to be found on the topic.

I found a study that was reported by U.S. News and World Reports that generated some insightful data. The study observed over 39,000 Americans who grew up and resided in various states with different laws regarding alcohol.  Some of these states allowed drinking at age 18, while others allowed it at age 21.

Let's start off by stating the facts: binge drinking is defined as a man who drinks five or more alcoholic drinks in one drinking session or a woman who drinks four or more drinks per session. This study followed the drinking habits of people who started drinking in the 1970s, and has followed those people for decades.

The studies showed that people in states with a drinking age below 21 had a much higher rate for binge drinking. They were not shown to drink more often, nor were they reported to consume more alcohol than states with a drinking age of 21. They were, however, reported to consume more alcohol during a drinking session than people from states who had a drinking age of 21.

In other words, people who lived in states with laws allowing the drinking of alcohol at an age younger than 21 are more likely to be binge drinkers today.

One frightening statistic: binge drinking is 19 percent higher for men who grew up in states with a lower drinking age, and among men who didn't go to college, it's even 31 percent more likely.

"Binge drinking on college campuses is a very serious problem," Plunk says. "But it's also important not to completely forget about young people who aren't on college campuses. In our study, they had the greatest risk of suffering the long-term consequences linked to lower drinking ages." -- HealthDay News

-Hannah Teague

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