Alright, now that that is out of the way, in honor of my first trip to a bar in the U.S. I've decided to blog about the role alcohol plays in different countries and how they handle it...
Did you know that the United States has the highest rate of alcoholism in the world? Not Germany...not Russia...but the USA. Now that might come as a surprise to some people but definitely not to me. I think Americans as a whole have a skewed view of alcohol and their own drinking habits.
As a little aside I was walking across my college campus when a guy behind me was trying to impress this girl he was walking with. Unfortunately neither of them was too intelligent; the conversation went like this:
Guy: Did you know Native Americans can't drink? Their body lacks the enzyme to process alcohol so if the drink it they die!
Girl: Oh my gawwwwd. No way!!!!
Guy: Yep. It's because they're from the New World and their bodies didn't evolve right to handle it.I was soo tempted to turn around and yell at the kid. Native Americans have the highest rate of alcoholism of any ethnicity within the USA. Way to be a dumb ass buddy.
But I digress. As I was saying I think Americans lack self-awareness when it comes to drinking. How often do people (especially college students) say that they are social drinkers (as though that makes a difference)? See , I don't think what college students do is social drinking. In Europe social drinking means you enjoy a glass of wine with a meal shared with friends and family; here it means getting as drunk as possible and making an ass of yourself then posting the photos you took on Facebook so everyone can see what an awesome time you had. Yikes! Not pretty!
I've always believed that a country's attitude toward alcohol determines the amount of alcoholics, alcohol-related deaths, drunk driving, etc.
I think that if you make something illegal or make it so you need to be older to do something, the more likely people are going to be to abuse it.
For instance, did you know that alcoholism is now on the rise in Russia because the government cracked down on the issue? Bars and clubs close earlier and alcohol isn't as easy to get (legally) which of course led people to get their alcohol on the black market and drink all they can when it's available.
I honestly think that the people responsible for making the alcohol laws in this country did not have teens or understand how a teen's mind worked. Every parent knows that when you tell a teenager not to do something, they do it. "Timmy don't drink!" "F U Mom I can drink if I want to!" Not the brightest idea.
I don't think it's a coincidence that as the country with one of the highest legal drinking ages we also have one of the highest alcohol abuse rates.
In Germany, you can start purchasing alcohol and going to clubs when you're 16. You can't drive until you're 18. Because of this, there are fewer cases of drunk driving. It just makes more sense. Why on earth would you let someone drive at 16 and then have them wait to drink until they're 21? I think Germany has the right idea...let kids have 2 years to figure out moderation and not have to worry about driving!
Also, the attitude towards alcohol is completely different in Germany. By making it "no big deal" kids are less likely to abuse it. I remember when I was growing up my parents let us kids have a glass of wine on special occasions. Now when I say a glass I mean a tiny glass that could barely hold a thimble full of wine. By doing that, I think my parents helped us kids see that alcohol is something to be enjoyed in moderation surrounded by loved ones; not chugged down at some random kegger surrounded by strangers. Alcohol should be treated the same way you treat a cigar not a a cigarette...with moderation during celebrations.
That being said, at this point I don't think it would be a good idea to lower the drinking age. Why? Because our view of alcohol is so incredibly skewed, our culture too different in order for us to change the laws now. Teens will go crazy! We do not live in a culture of moderation. We live in the great country of more is better. Every aspect of our lives is super sized. America and moderation go together about as well as ham and peanut butter....I'm just sayin....
But that's all for now folks!
I'd love to hear your thoughts!