Sunday, June 04, 2006

Another Anti-Alcohol Screed in The New York Times

The New York Times published another anti-alcohol screed ("Teenage Wasteland," June 2, 2006) this weekend. This one was written by some guy named David Pease, a Connecticut father-turned-control-freak inspired by the deaths of some of his children (is it possible that substance abuse runs in the family?).

According to A Vigil for Lost Promise's sponsors page, Pease "is a self-appointed activist, mentoring proponent and prevention advocate focused on helping parents get a grip on the cloak of denial, and on helping teens break free from the bondage of underage drinking and substance abuse. He is the founder of the Amistad 53 Mentoring Program - currently being pilot tested in Stamford, Connecticut in partnership with Liberation Programs of Connecticut - and the Get a G.R.I.P. Foundation, working to inspire 'Greater Responsibility In Parenthood' by conducting workshops across the State." Sadly, he "lost his oldest son Dave to a heroin overdose at age 23 in 1997, and his middle son Casey in 2001, on his 24th birthday, to a car accident where alcohol played a role." You can read his testimony about his sons in his article "My Son Brian" published on the web site of The Partnership for a Drug-Free America.

Anyway, I'm of course not happy that Pease lost his sons to what clearly amounted to a vicious substance abuse problem. However, I don't really think Pease can blame society for what happened to his children. Liberalization and culture really weren't the direct problems in his case. The children had a problem. He confesses that he maybe didn't handle it as well as he should have, which is actually pretty courageous, but at the end of the day one of his sons was playing with heroine, not exactly equivalent to smoking a joint or drinking a beer, and the other got plastered and attempted to drive home.

But back to the New York Times article. Pease laments, "If there ever was a time to focus on the problem of underage drinking here in Connecticut, it's now, when teenagers are busy celebrating their final days of high school and the beginning of independence, in many cases by popping a cork or opening a bottle." Well, gee. It's kind of a long-accepted custom in western society to pop a cork of champaign to celebrate the passage into adulthood, which Pease carefully refers to as "independence" (because 18-year-olds who graduate from high school still aren't adults?). Pease's op-ed is full of the usually vague statistics about the "problem" of alcohol consumption:
  • "Our teenagers are reporting a consumption of alcohol during the last 30 days that is 21 percent above the national average, yet a number of Connecticut parents and legislators resist putting more teeth into our local ordinances."
But what does that mean? It could mean lots of these "kids" are consuming small quantities responsibly, or a few are consuming small to large quantities irresponsibly. That's a meaningless statistic only made alarming by the fact that you have to be 21 to purchase alcohol. I find it rather hard to believe that parents who supervise their offspring drinking, which they shouldn't have to do when their children are already 18 and legally adults, is a danger to Connecticut society. As a matter of fact, Connecticut should probably be thankful there are some responsible parents out there who take the time and effort to teach responsible drinking habits.
  • "For too long, the country has focused on illicit drug abuse without giving alcohol abuse the attention it warrants. And yet according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration's 2004 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, of the 22.5 million Americans over the age of 12 who are substance-dependent, 15.2 million, or 67.6 percent, abuse alcohol, while only 3.9 million, or 17 percent, are primarily drug abusers."
I don't know the methodology of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration off the top of my head, but I don't think it's fair to conflate those who have a drink once in a while, no matter what age they are, with "substance abusers," which Pease appears to at least be implying. It's obvious that people prone to substance abuse might abuse alcohol more often than other drugs because alcohol is indeed freely available. 22.5 million people is a pretty small fraction of the U.S. population, however. According to this moment's estimate (1:53PM on Sunday the 4th of June, 2006) from the Census Bureau, the population of the U.S. is 298,898,582. That puts the the fraction of those over 12 who abuse substances at under 8%. It's not nice to say that 8% of our population has substance abuse problems, but that hardly seems like an extreme number.
  • "When one considers that more than 95 percent of those 15.2 million alcohol abusers started drinking before they were 21 years old, it would seem logical that underage drinking would not only be our main focus, but that it would also get the bulk of our prevention spending."
I don't know what it means to start drinking per se, but it appears that most people at least manage to have a drink before the age of 21, or even 18. Whether they choose to drink again, much less drink regularly, I don't know the stat. Unless you're an abstainer (maybe a wise, conscious choice for that percentage of the population that is prone to substance a buse) for health or moral or religious reasons, you probably have a drink now and again.
  • "While restricting access is important, studies have shown that programs that reduce drug and alcohol abuse focus on educating parents and teaching children about the dangers of drugs and alcohol."
How do you do that? Why, teach them to drink responsibly. Don't binge drink, kids!
  • "Recent studies of adolescents' brain scans show that the consumption of alcohol by young adults can cause long-lasting damage, particularly in areas related to learning, memory and critical thinking."
Quite typical for these types of screeds, not such study was even cited. It's probably the case that binge drinking does affect cognitive development. But it seems pretty alarmist to say that having a drink, or even having one every night, will affect cognitive development. But again, this statistic is thrown around liberally, but never substantiated.

The reason why alarmist screeds like this come about is because the authors of such claims are knee-jerk moralists. They act this way about alcohol and drugs, but not activities that don't carry a moral social stigma. For instance, according to NHTSA statistics in 2005, 43,200 died in car accidents. "Alcohol-related" deaths numbered 16,972. (It's important to remember that "alcohol-related" is also a very vague, misleading term. A sober driver hitting a drunk pedestrian is "alcohol-related.)

Cars are apparently killing more people thank drivers who drink. Heck, Mr. Pease's son died in an automobile-related accident. Why don't we make it more difficult to drive? Better yet, let's shoot for Automobile Prohibition!

47 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hmm I love the idea behind this website, very unique.
»

Anonymous said...

Nice idea with this site its better than most of the rubbish I come across.
»

Anonymous said...

I love your website. It has a lot of great pictures and is very informative.
»

Anonymous said...

I find some information here.

Anonymous said...

ambien no rx ambien thyroid medication - ambien cr discount

Anonymous said...

viagra online pharmacy cheap generic viagra online us - generic viagra dosage

Anonymous said...

generic viagra order viagra in australia - buy cheap viagra pills online

Anonymous said...

viagra online without prescription viagra online authentic - what viagra dosage is best

Anonymous said...

soma carisoprodol soma pill d 31 - buy soma online ship florida

Anonymous said...

buy soma buy aura soma australia - soma pain killer muscle relaxer

Anonymous said...

buy soma online soma drug book - cheap eats soma san francisco

Anonymous said...

buy soma online long do soma pills last - generic soma compound

Anonymous said...

soma no prescription order soma no prescription - buy generic soma online

Anonymous said...

buy soma buy online soma no prescription - soma medical spa

Anonymous said...

soma drug buy soma arizona - cheapest soma online

Anonymous said...

buy soma online soma muscle cramps - soma the strokes

Anonymous said...

generic soma soma san diego stage - images of generic soma

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online cod overnight tramadol for dogs onset of action - best way buy tramadol online

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online buy tramadol from usa - tramadol online yahoo

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online order tramadol cod overnight - buy tramadol online overnight delivery

Anonymous said...

buy cialis online order cialis no prescription - order generic cialis in usa

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol online tramadol high many - tramadol 50 mg what is it for

Anonymous said...

buy carisoprodol side effects of carisoprodol 350 mg - carisoprodol 350 mg listaflex

Anonymous said...

buy carisoprodol carisoprodol show up drug test - carisoprodol positive drug test

Anonymous said...

buy carisoprodol carisoprodol found drug test - carisoprodol 350 mg watson

Anonymous said...

xanax online is there a generic xanax xr - xanax overdose many

Anonymous said...

buy cialis online buy viagra cialis online - cialis news

Anonymous said...

buy cialis super active cialis free sample coupon - generic cialis australia

Anonymous said...

cialis online order cialis online no prescription - cialis daily use does work

Anonymous said...

xanax online xanax withdrawal jaw - side effects switching xanax klonopin

Anonymous said...

buy xanax medication alprazolam 0.5mg - xanax side effects next day

Anonymous said...

buy xanax online forum xanax with high blood pressure - extended release xanax dosage

Anonymous said...

buy cialis online usa buy-cialis-generic-online - cialis ad

Anonymous said...

http://landvoicelearning.com/#74967 tramadol 50 mg for back pain - tramadol hcl 50 mg high

Anonymous said...

http://buytramadolonlinecool.com/#50897 buy tramadol with cod - tramadol overdose much

Anonymous said...

learn how to buy tramdadol tramadol dosage and side effects - tramadol for dogs can humans take it

Anonymous said...

http://buytramadolonlinecool.com/#73892 buy tramadol er - buy tramadol online australia no prescription

Anonymous said...

buy klonopin online klonopin vs xanax side effects - best dosage klonopin

Anonymous said...

buy tramadol tramadol for dogs what dosage - tramadol hcl 30

Anonymous said...

http://www.msn.com/ - [url=http://www.msn.com/]msn[/url] msn
msn

Anonymous said...

tramadol 50mg buy tramadol cheap online no prescription - normal dosage tramadol hcl

Anonymous said...

buy klonopin online lortab klonopin high - klonopin high liver enzymes

Anonymous said...

http://www.integrativeonc.org/adminsio/buyklonopinonline/#8491 klonopin side effects adults - klonopin for sale

Anonymous said...

http://www.integrativeonc.org/adminsio/buyklonopinonline/#5508 klonopin side effects weight - klonopin 3 times a day

Anonymous said...

carisoprodol 350 mg carisoprodol 350 mg addictive - carisoprodol soma 350

Anonymous said...

soma carisoprodol carisoprodol generic soma - carisoprodol side effects constipation

Anonymous said...

carisoprodol 350 mg carisoprodol 350 mg tab qualitest - carisoprodol soma compound