The best thing that ever happened to me happened when I was 17. It was at a friend’s birthday party. Her parents didn’t want to embarrass her so they kindly left her to it. I’m not sure who bought / brought the booze to the party, but I suspect that it was the responsible parents. No chaperones, lots of booze. Whoopee.
I had my first taste of alcohol that night. I discovered that I didn’t care for the taste of whiskey but couldn’t admit it to anyone so I drank down my shot, then I had a some vodka to get rid of the taste of the whiskey. My parents rarely drank and never in my presence. I guess that’s why it hadn’t dawned on them to mention to me that I shouldn’t mix my drinks. Which wasn’t a problem because as soon as I had heaved it all down my host’s bathroom sink I knew all about it. That’s what kept me from boozeless for at least a decade. In my twenties I did try white wine but my tolerance to that was practically zero. One glass and I was ready to curl up somewhere and go to sleep.
Looking back on it, I was lucky on all sorts of levels. I didn’t really like the taste of alcohol and there was none kept in my parent’s home. Parental influence and genetic disposition is how I got past that stupid stage. And the same can be said for my children. They had good parental role models and like their parents are happy to drink only socially. Lucky us.
I heard a radio interview recently with the AMA president. He said that the human brain was still developing until the age of 25 and exposure to alcohol earlier could change a person’s addictive potential. Dr Hambleton wanted the legal drinking age raised to 25.
Having those facts presented that way, you would have thought it would get widespread support from adults. But instead of getting together to seriously discuss ways it could work, the commentators and journalists were out in force telling us why it couldn’t be done.
I remember when there was a push to lower drinking age from 21 to 18. The rationale coming from lobby groups back then was that if we consider 18 year old boys old enough to go to war, we should allow them to drink. That was decades ago. How does that song go? ‘Everything old is new again.’ Yeah, let’s not exert ourselves if there’s a perfectly good chetnut waiting to be hauled out for our examination. I would have thought the obvious answer to that age old question is to raise the age of men (and women these days) going to war to 21 or 25.
I can see Dr Hambleton’s suggestion falling by the wayside (although I believe it’s succeeded in some states of the US). It gave our commentators something to discuss for the day, now it’s over. So, in fact, it already has fallen by the wayside. Coming up with a viable resolution is much too hard for our feeble brains, better to haul out the clichés.
Raising the legal drinking age gets in the way of business. It will close down the nightclubs because 25 year olds are not interested in them or in getting ‘wasted’ (is that the right term for booze?) Of course I remember when nightclubs were attended by grownups in beautiful gowns and dinner suits, drinking moderately and doing the cha cha. Imagine the loss there. Raising the drinking age would lose the liquor outlets a huge market. There would be losses all round. For business. So let’s keep to the status quo and let the children absorb the losses instead. Let them pay the price.