Taking a cue from the United Kingdom could give U.S. students the chance to learn responsible drinking before they enter college.
And with only three days of classes per week, it’s no surprise that students’ alcoholic intake increases, on average, by 105 percent while studying abroad, according to a new study published in the current issue of Psychology of Addictive Behaviors.
Students from the University of Washington completed a survey that garnered the information, but perhaps more could be said for Temple students.
“It feels like a wasted night if we’re not going out to get wasted,” said Danielle Marinese, a junior communications major, who is currently studying at Temple London.
That is not to say binge drinking has increased. The drinking age in the United Kingdom is 18, which makes drinking alcohol more of a social lubricant than a social problem.
“It doesn’t have to be something to do to always get trashed,” Marinese added, admitting she binge drinks more often on Main Campus. “It’s a beer with our dinner sometimes, and at our internships, our bosses will give us some wine to drink. We’re not alcoholics. It’s a casual thing here.”
That’s partly because the U.K., along with most of Europe has a drinking age three years lower than the United States’.
The Brits often passive-aggressively stipulate they don’t understand how we can serve and die for our country in the U.S. army at 18, but not enjoy a drink at the local pub. Meanwhile, we U.S. citizens blankly stare, not really knowing how to respond, other than with, “You’re right.”
They are right. I have the utmost respect for the Army, but that comparison proves the insanity of the U.S. drinking age. Most college students are juniors by the time they can legally sip a foamy beer inside a red plastic cup. But most students turn 18 before they enter college, so if 18 were the drinking age, many would have the opportunity to experience alcohol and gain responsible drinking habits before their freshman year.
Nonetheless, for most 18-year-olds, going out in London is too expensive. So while they may be able to legally drink, they often cannot financially afford to go out to a club or bar to drink. In the U.S., where house parties are the primary hosts of 18- to 21-year-old drinkers, drinking is cheaper, and as a result, binge drinking is more prevalent.
Telling college students they shouldn’t drink is like telling them if they don’t go to sleep, Santa won’t fill their stockings on Christmas.
College students do not know full responsibility, and many have a lot more maturing and learning to do. Students are adults, yet the law forces students to hide from reality instead of giving them the simple responsibility to enjoy a glass of wine with dinner.
After living in London for nearly two months, dining on fish and chips without a glass of beer would be as ludicrous as it would be overly controlling. The 21-year-old age limit in U.S. isn’t working. It’s time Washington becomes realistic about the issue, instead of giving in to lobbyists from groups like Mothers Against Drunk Driving because it probably causes damage more than it helps.
College is stressful enough without having to worry about receiving an underage citation every time I go to a party back home.
Matthew Petrillo can be reached at email@example.com.