Tag Archives: alcohol

21+ Crowd

It seems that every place that’s worth being in is designed for people aged 21 and over. Just last week I was trying to find a spot to celebrate my birthday, only to find that there are very few establishments in the NYC nightlife aimed for the 18 and over clientele. I guess the fun stuff is reserved for 21+ crowd.

Not to sound cliched, but how is it that 21 seems to be the age where one is finally considered to be an adult? At 18, we have the right to vote and the ability to serve in the army, and moreover we could be drafted if the need arises. Everywhere else in the world, 18 is the “legal” age. Where did America get the number 21?

How is it that drinking is reserved for 3 years after one is allowed to vote? Does this limitation suggest that drinking requires more maturity and life experience than what is required to make the decision to vote? In the U.S., the legal drinking age is 21 rather than the widely accepted 18 elsewhere, for example in European countries. That’s why most lounges, clubs and other nightlife businesses ID for 21 and older – they want to make money on alcohol sales to the legal age group.

So, following American logic, if laws are made to protect the public, then the elevated drinking age will protect minors from abusing the privilege by getting intoxicated. But who said that making something illegal will prevent it from happening? In the early 1900’s, the attempt to ward off the negative affect of alcohol from the public resulted in the 18th Amendment to the constitution, which turned into an experiment that came to be known as the prohibition. As history shows, during that period of time there was a massive underground movement of alcohol sale, transport and distribution. In fact, the amendment was repealed just 14 years after it was added because it did not serve its purpose. It seemed to have the opposite effect on alcohol use: drinking was not eliminated, but crime rose via the black market in the “Roaring Twenties.”Likewise, proponents of lowering the legal drinking age say that such a law would provide at least some control over youthful consumption; whereas a law prohibiting the practice would only move the process out of the public eye rather than eliminating it. According to an article by ABC News Group, “The current drinking age has just driven the drinking out of public view,” McCardell told ABC News. “It has meant that instead of drinking in bars or restaurants where there is supervision, it’s happening in dorms and dark corners.”

I’m in no way advocating the legalization of illicit substances with the aim of lowering or eliminating their use altogether. Even though alcohol falls into the category of drugs, it is one that is most commonly seen in everyday life. People continue to use it despite the possibility of intoxication; and more often because of it. There are health warnings against it, but it is often seen as “the least of the drugs” and is consistently used at social functions.

Perhaps the argument “the earlier you start the sooner you learn” is not the best one to make on this difficult issue, but it is something to think about. Like most things in life, there needs to be a moderate approach to every situation. In this case, I think that it is fair to compare the legal voting versus the legal drinking age. And my standpoint here is that America should match with the rest of the world and make these two equivalent: age 18.


“Starving Themselves, Cocktail in Hand” – a discussion

The New York Times article, Starving Themselves, Cocktail in Hand, is about the trends of eating disorders affected by alcohol consumption. Not only are eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia problematic on their own, these and other disorders can have dramatic effects when combined with alcohol abuse. “Drunkorexia,” as the author unofficially terms the compound affect of alcohol on food disorders, affects mostly women in their college years who starve themselves to limit calorie intake while consuming those calories through alcohol.

According to the President of the National Eating Disorders Association, the media and images of celebrities are to blame for obsession with weight and therefore the disorders that come from improper nutrition and diet fads. In fact, eating disorders may be spurred psychologically by a need to numb some emotional pain. Manorexia, orthorexia, binge eating disorder and diabulimia are some examples of food ailments affecting many people today. Furthermore, according to a report written in 2003, up to 35 percent of alcohol or illicit drug abusers have eating disorders compared to three percent of the general population (Those With Eating Disorders Likelier To Abuse Alcohol And Drugs). A study published in Biological Psychiatry journal found that between 20 and 30 percent of anorexics and bulimics suffer from substance abuse as well. Rehab programs are not equipped to handle eating disorders that accompany alcohol or drug abuse, so the disorders persist even after much time and money is invested in clinical help.

Recently neuroscience explores the connection between drugs and food in how they have similar psychological effects on the brain. Food can function in the same way that alcohol and drugs do. This phenomenon typically affects women, who have an unhealthy appetite for food in the same way that they may crave alcohol. However, there is a twist in the treatment of the two problems, since cutting off food completely is not an option. Withdrawal from food has quite a different set of effects than that from alcohol: it’s fatal.

The author examines this new strain on the eating disorders by interviewing two women who have been affected by them. Both of these women have suffered from multiple eating disorders for a number of years, spending a large amount of money on food and healthcare. The personal revelations by these women strengthen the article. The reader can really see the extremities of such disorders and connect to the problem through the perspective of these women. This was an effective technique to stir some emotion from the audience. Today the two women are still struggling to have a normal outlook towards food, but they are being helped by centers that focus on disorders involving food and alcohol.

I had learned about eating disorders such as anorexia and bulimia ever since taking a health ed. class in junior high, but I had no idea that they affected so many women and to such great lengths. Substance abuse brings the extent of such disorders to a different level, and it is important to note the correlation of the two. I also didn’t know that orthorexia, or obsession with eating healthy food, is a disorder that may lead to malnutrition. Nor did I think that diabetics may suffer from diabulimia, or refusal to take insulin in order to avoid weight gain. This is an informative article that should make us question why such a strain is becoming so popular. Perhaps more studies should be done to determine the reason behind so much pressure to look thin and how it may be eliminated. Personally, I don’t think there is anything wrong in trying to be thin, but it must be done in a healthy manner. Even without having to obsess about organic food, eating the proper nutrients in moderation should do the trick.