Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses Hardcover – August 17, 2002
Customers who viewed this item also viewed
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
From Publishers Weekly
Drawing on interviews with and questionnaires collected from 50,000 students at 140 four-year colleges as part of the recent Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Studies, Wechsler, director of the study, and science writer Wuethrich offer a sobering overview of underage drinking. Parents who comfort themselves by saying that their children drink, but at least they don't do drugs, may be shocked by the authors' findings, which have appeared in academic journals. Binge drinking consuming five drinks at one sitting for men and four for women is a bigger problem than the one Joe Camel once posed to smoking-prone teens. In 1995, the economic cost of alcohol abuse which includes costs associated with such problems as crime, suicide and alcohol poisonings was $167 billion, $57 billion higher than drug abuse. Just over 70% of all unmarried students between the ages of 18 and 23 binge drink. The authors discuss the effect of drinking on campus crime, including sexual assault, where more than half of the victims and 74% of the perpetrators had been drinking. Wechsler and Wuethrich attribute collegiate alcohol abuse to what they refer to as an "alcohol-related culture," such as 21st birthday celebrations, where people are expected to "drink their age," and sorority and fraternity culture, where 75% of the students are binge drinkers. After delivering such grave news, Wechsler and Wuethrich offer a final chapter on what communities can do from enforcing laws to restricting happy hours to eradicate binge drinking. Their book is a dramatic and very real call for parents, educators and lawmakers to take action.
Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information, Inc.
Harvard professor Wechsler, with the help of writer Wuethrich, makes the results of his survey of campus binge drinking accessible to parents and their college-bound students. What an eye-opener! The problem, he reports, is widespread, with an alcohol "culture" on many campuses (including at some of the most select schools in the country) fueling underage drinking. Devastating anecdotal accounts of tragedy associated with bingeing--among them a number of national headline-making stories--are powerful in themselves, but what follows is equally disturbing: accounts of administrators turning a blind eye to the problem so as not to alienate longtime contributors to college coffers; industry advertising (beer-guzzling canines) and production (alcopops) catering to a youth market; and new information on alcohol's physiological and emotional effects. To their great credit, however, the authors don't simply leave readers in a stew: they conclude with models for change--plans tailored to parents, students, and communities that want to get involved and pull together to address a problem that is becoming not only more widespread but also more deadly. Stephanie Zvirin
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
Browse award-winning titles. See more
Top customer reviews
OK, if this guy is right, college drinking is way out of control, and has implicitly gotten worse since the eighties, we need to crack down even harder on those damn underage drinkers, right? Haven't we been doing that, increasingly so? But maybe, just maybe, that proves once and for all that raising the drinking age to 21 was an ignominious failure. Oh! But the statistics show that both drinking overall and binge drinking is down? Then let's not mess with success, the neoprohibitionists say. Look, you can't have it both ways folks. True, federal surveys generally do show (except for a brief increase in the first half of the 1990s) a decline in both drinking and binge drinking for high school students and 18-22 year olds NOT in college, that began in 1979-81 (predating the national drinking age hike), but for college students it remained remarkably steady over the decades. That's no surprise since both Millennials and Generation X tend to be more responsible overall than Generation Jones by just about every OBJECTIVE statistical measure (crime, violence, drug use, drug overdoses, teen pregnancy, sexual activity), regardless of what the media pundits may say. However, binge drinking is defined as 5/4+ or more drinks in a night in such surveys, and there has been no longitudinal study to my knowledge on the prevalence of "extreme" drinking (10/8+ drinks). A study of first-semester college freshmen by White et al. in 2003 found that 20% men and 8% of women exceeded these levels at least once in the past two weeks, compared to 41% of men and 34% of women who had 5/4 drinks, respectively. Researchers even had the gall to suggest (vaguely and ambiguously of course) in that study that the minority of drinkers (and even of "binge" drinkers) that are "extreme" are the ones causing the real problems. But the neoprohibitionists continue to bark up the wrong tree yet again.
Frankly, I wouldn't be surprised if the "extreme" drinking rates have increased (despite stable or declining "binge" and total drinking rates) since the drinking age was raised to 21. When you criminalize normative drinking and force it ever deeper underground, you will inadvertently (but inevitably) normalize truly dangerous drinking. This is exacly what happened during Prohibition. And we all pay a heavy price for it.
OK, you say, but didn't drunk driving fatalities plummet as a result of raising the age? Actually, not all studies agree on that point either, despite the apparent media and political pseudo-consensus. Check out Miron and Tetelbaum, 2007, or Dee and Evans, 2001, some of the best studies on the topic IMO. The first one says, after adjusting for numerous confounders, only the first few states to raise the age voluntarily (before federal coercion) for whatever reason had a significant fatality decline, thus skewing the national results. Most of the rest so no statistically significant change or an increase in fatalities after adjusting for confounders. And even the "early adopting" states had a rebound effect just a few years later. That last fact is also similar to what happened in 1920-21, the first two years of Prohibition. Alcohol consumption declined at first with only minimal law enforcement, primarily among the working class who could not afford overly price-inflated illegal hooch, then rebounded with a vengeance and continued to rise, despite ever-increasing enforcement of Prohibition. Some researchers even go so far as to say that the first two years were lifesaving, but we all know what happened next. The second study suggests that a drinking age of 21 reduces fatalities slightly for 18-19 year olds, but raises them for 22-24 year olds, merely delaying fatalities for a few short years. Turns out the "miracle" was really just a dividend that had to be paid a few years down the line when those subjected to age prohibition reached the new drinking age! And several studies show the remainder of the fatality decline can be better explained by other factors (safer cars, seat belt laws, tougher drunk driving laws and enforcement, public awareness, etc.).
By the way, Miron and Tetelbaum also find that high school drinking survey results are only minimally affected (if at all) by the drinking age. Again, only the early adopting states give statisitcally significant results after adjusting for confounders such as beer tax.
In other words, there is no NET benefit to having an unenforceably high drinking age of 21, and throwing more money at it and passing more ridiculous laws to prop up the greatest alcohol policy failure since Prohibition is absurd. It is hardly a solution since it is part of the problem. It would be far more intelligent, fair, and lucrative to lower the drinking age to 18, raise the alcohol taxes (especially beer), restrict advertising, and increase HONEST alcohol education if one really wants to reduce abusive drinking and its attendant problems in the short and long term. Sound crazy? That is exactly what we did with cigarettes, and smoking rates have declined for all ages by more than half since 1976 despite relatively poor enforcement of the smoking age. And stop letting drunk drivers off so easily compared to other countries--it is not difficult to do unless those in power are pansies (or habitual drunk drivers themselves). Remember, the real (pink) elephant in the room is the behavior of older adults whose example is followed by America's youth regardless of the drinking age. And it isn't very good.
I believe a functional definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results?