Alcohol visits many faces across lands
Alcohol is an interesting drug. It is a depressant; it reduces your co-ordination, reaction times, awareness, and rationality. This results in a somewhat simplistic view of life for as long as the inebriation lasts. Itís a form of escape, making it easy to hold on to the simple elements of the situation you are in at the time, be it a party or at a club, or just at home watching TV, which can make things seem really happy.
Medically, thereís been some talk of small and regular amounts of red wine reducing the risk of heart disease. However, a report published in the British Medical Journal 2 years ago, based on research made over several years involving over 3000 people, indicates quite clearly that regardless of how much you drink, those who do drink alcohol donít live as long as those who abstain. Social standing cannot be used as an argument as there are plenty of wealthy people drinking whisky or G&T late into the evening on a regular basis.
There are many different views on alcohol, itís place in peopleís lives, and in society. Culture and history play a large part in the situation today. As someone who grew up in England, and then has lived here in Pittsburgh for three months arriving just before my 21st birthday, the attitude of college students to alcohol is a very noticeable thing.
Back home, most of my friends had Ďdrunkí stories to tell by the age of 14. Often involving cider (always alcoholic in England) bought by older siblings or friends who could pass for 18. They would sit at home, or in a park, and drink. Police might pour drink away if people are making a noise, but itís generally a low risk activity. It is a rare occurrence to be IDíd if you look anything like 18.
Having spent time in mainland Europe where things are yet more relaxed, I discovered I could buy a 1.5 litre bottle of Pernod by aged 14, and no one seemed to bat an eyelid. (It was actually a present for our coach driver on the holiday) It is quite a surprise being here in the land of the free.
So now Iím here in the states, and loving it by and large, and I find I cannot buy a beer at the University beer shop, even with a UK passport proving my age (they want a PA driving permit Ė yeah, right.).
The overall impression, is that the average drinking maturity of students here is about 2 years behind English students, so I have found myself yet again watching out for drunk friends whoíve gone a bit too far with it.
Keeping partying to the weekends is a good thing though; even though binge drinking is a lot worse for the body, it makes it easier to work during the week, and keeps life quieter during the night for us poor engineers with 9 AM classes. I was woken at 2 or 3 AM every other night for my first two years of college as drunken people came back from clubs.
Back home, if you like dancing to good (or bad) music, you can have a great time almost every day of the week, although I pity those that are unable to step up to the dance floor unaided by alcohol.
The willingness of students here to get involved and make things happen is so much more apparent here that I find it quite refreshing Ė and itís clear that alcohol plays a part in robbing people of academic potential.
Ultimately it would be unfeasible to change things in England. There would be a national mutiny. Yeah, I think personally Iíd like to see the use of alcohol reduced in the UK; I appreciate a glass of good wine with a meal, but I see too many people messed up by it to support the current situation.
Here in the US, it would be unwise to change things here because there would be so many more problems with drinking Ė DUI, underage (14 is closer to 18 than it is to 21), and ultimately I think less would get done.
This society already makes me weep at how it lets people slip through the net and end up on the streets. Some may read this and think Iím super conservative, wanting to spoil peopleís fun, but Iíd rather see a world where people spend more of their time in good health, succeeding in things that actually fulfill them, than watching even more people literally piss and vomit their money down the toilet.
Volume I, Issue IV