Drinking is a major problem among college students in America, although very little is known about the amount of alcohol consumption in various groups of students, learning institutions and states with varying control policies. This research paper incorporates statistical data from the year 2001 and three previous studies that were conducted by Harvard School of Public Health. The studies compared various responses among the underage students and those of their influencer or peers of age 21-23. The studies indicated that underage students took less part in alcohol consumption, but they were more likely to excess-fully consume when they did. This happens because the students could access alcohol easily due to the fact that the set policies and college educational efforts were limited. States that had very extensive laws on alcohol consumption by underage and high volume drinking laws, students in the region were less likely to consume and binge alcohol. Most of the underage students held up on the efforts to control underage drinking. This shows that additional policy to control alcohol consumption by underage may be feasible and effective.
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The United States Surgeon General has recognized declining binge of alcohol (heavy consumption of alcohol) among students in college as a key goal for the country. The study showed that two of every five students took part in binge drinking. This type of alcohol consumption is accompanied by severe negative impacts such as difficulties in studies, health and psychological problems such as high risk of engaging sexually, driving while drunk, and antisocial behavior. Accidental wound or injury is the top cause of death among older teenagers and young adults. Heavy consumption of alcohol also affects other students. Students in schools that have high rates of excessive consumption experience a lot of secondhand effects of alcohol use; sexual, physical and verbal assaults, and damage of property than students in schools where binge rate is low.
Most students in college consume alcohol at 5-level of drinking more often than their age mates who do not attend college. Research has showed that environmental factors, especially college setting, low prices of alcohol, and easy access to alcoholic drinks, influence at a high rate in use of alcohol and problems that are related. Although drinking and binge of alcohol among students who are underage is widespread, an analysis that was conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health in 1999 indicated that underage students take more bottles of alcohol as compared to their peers who have attained a legal age of consuming alcohol, although the underage drink less often.
Legal Steps in Controlling Underage Drinking
Laws that indicate the minimum drinking age are a set of measures and tools that have been used to curb the heavy consumption of alcohol by the students who are in colleges. For instance, in 1984, the Congress of the United States passed an act on the minimum age that can purchase alcohol. This law encouraged many states to enact a minimum age of 21 years that can buy alcohol. The minimum legal age for alcohol consumption law is termed to be the most effective law in curbing consumption of alcohol and its various consequences among many youth. Many studies have indicated that this law of minimum age brought about a significant decline in traffic accidents that involved drivers between the ages of 18 to 20 years. An estimate that was given by the National Traffic administration showed that the law saved more than 19,000 people, and proportion of traffic injuries that are as a result of alcohol declined from 63.2% in 1982 to 35.1% in the year 1999. Recent authors have indicated that incidence that related to alcohol declined and there were fewer health and social problems as a result of MLDA law.
Even though the law has played a crucial role in curbing alcohol related mortality and morbidity, underage alcohol consumption is still a major issue in the country. Enforcement is usually laidback and agencies that are responsible in supporting and upholding these laws are usually underfunded in various states. Some cases have pointed out that youngsters use fake identities and other provisions in order to access alcohol and hence making it hard for these organizations to curb the drinking habit of the teenagers. Various studies on alcohol retailing indicated that there is a wide variability in complying with the MLDA laws and hence compliance to these laws needs to be improved.
Other Limits on Buying and Consumption of Alcohol
On top of MLDA law, it is important for the government to regulate use of alcohol by persons less than 21 years old. These rules would include prohibiting any attempt to buy or consume alcohol and prohibiting use of false identification in whichever way in effort to purchase alcohol. One instance of using false identification is whereby a teenager sends an older younger who is in the legal bracket of consuming alcohol. Law also requires that the retailers of alcoholic drinks should be of the age above 21 years old. In addition to the above laws, the government should incorporate series of rules that aim in limiting the level of consumption of alcohol. For instance, the government should make it illegal for purchasing high volume of sales and drinking, and pitcher and keg registration. The named legal controls have received very minimal attention.
In the current study, this research paper has used a national sample of universities and colleges in order to carry out a deductive study on drinking behavior among the underage students, their pattern of using alcohol, the manner in which they acquire alcohol and how they perceive the efforts that are set in preventing them from accessing alcohol. This paper compares a report of underage students in 2001 with their mentors/ peers who are above the minimum legal age of consuming alcohol (Perkins, 2002). The paper has also considered the policies that are put in place and programs that are incorporated by the schools in efforts curb underage and excessive drinking. Finally, the paper also examined the impacts of two laws: the law that targets drinking by the underage and the law that is aimed at prohibiting or limiting bulky sale of alcoholic drinks.
The paper drew the data in the present study from the year 2001 survey of 120 college students, who were selected to represent a sample of colleges and universities in 38 states and in Columbia District. In the sample, we limited the age of the representative students to 23 years old or younger, and compared to another sample of underage students; students below the age of 21 years old. The survey used a questionnaire where the students were asked some stipulated questions concerning their alcohol consumption and problems that came as a result of alcohol, their lifestyles, background and demographic characteristics. The responses by the students were anonymous and voluntary. The paper, however, excluded the results from one college, because the results were substantially lower as compared to the results from other schools. Thereby, the research was left with a sample 119 colleges and universities that represented the cross section in the nation for students enrolled.
The paper defined the students who are below the age of 21 years old to be the underage students and those that were between the age of 21 and 23 years old to be the legal age. This paper defined binge drinking as the consumption of at least five drinks in a row (men) and four (women) during two weeks before the filling of the questionnaire. Frequent alcohol bingers were the students who had binged alcohol three or more times in the past two weeks, whereas on the other hand, occasional bingers were the students who binged alcohol once or twice in the same two weeks period. The non-bingers were the students who had taken alcohol, but they had not taken excessively (binge) in the past two weeks. Abstainers were the students who had not consumed any alcoholic drink in the past year. In order for this paper to come up with the appropriate measure, the researcher asked additional questions. The respondents were required to fill the number of times they consumed alcohol, number of times they got drunk, the amount of alcohol they consumed and the importance of “getting drank”. The above questions were set to be answered in regard to the previous 30 days before filling the questionnaire. The respondents’ choices were as follows; 1-2, 3-5, 6-9, 10-19, 20-39, or more. For analysis, only the mid-point was picked in each respondent’s category and 40 for the maximum answer. About 1/3 of the students indicated that they did not drink in the period of past 30 days, and 12% to 15% of the students reported that they had consumed alcohol in the past year, but not in the past 30 days. In addition to the above questions, the questionnaire required the students to put down the consequences of drinking both first hand and second hand effects. The paper used second hand effects from the survey of students who indicated that they did not binge drink (abstainers and non-bingers).
There were 43.6% underage students in the year 2001 who were classified as excessive alcohol users (bingers). This rate was similar to other rates for college students nationally, and it did not change for over four years of survey. Underage students consume alcohol differently as compared to the other sample of students who were between the age of 21 and 23. Underage students were more likely not to have consumed any alcohol in the past year, 77.4% for the underage and 85% for students who were between 21-23 years old. Among the students who took alcohol during the past year, drinking style for the underage students differed from the 21-23 aged students. Fewer underage students consumed alcohol ten times or more for the past 30 days that is 20% for underage and 26% for of-age students. The report showed that underage students were more likely to consume alcohol excessively, 57.8% of men had consumed more than five drinks as compared to the 41.9% for the older set of students.
On the other hand, underage students were more likely to do something that they regretted later on after sobering up. The underage also reported high scenarios of causing property damage, getting into trouble with the authority, getting injured while drunk and other problems that are related to alcohol. The report on consequences of alcohol showed a greater mark as compared with the of- age students. This research paper also noted a slight increase in all the measures of problems that are related to alcohol as compared to research reports that had been carried out earlier in the 1990s.
Despite the national prohibiting consumption of alcohol by underage people, that is people who are below 21 years old, significant number of students in the United States can access alcohol and still drink excessively. Although the rate of alcohol consumption has declined, the level of alcohol binge among college students remains high. To the national’s concern, frequent binge and consequences that follow are overwhelming among the underage students. As a result to alcohol binge, this survey has indicated that problems that come as a result of drinking alcohol among college students have increased. Some researchers have concluded on similar finding that controls on underage drinking do not work in colleges and that such regulations should be modified.
Although, it is easy to conclude that excessive drinking among the students is a result of the undesirable effects of MLDA rule, it is also easy to say that the law has tried to reduce cases of drinking by the underage and has reduced on their heavy drinking. Despite the findings of this research, it is important to note that laws that regulate the minimum age of accessing alcohol, indeed, should control the underage from drinking behaviors.
Authorities in colleges and universities should also embark on setting rules and regulations that facilitate in prohibiting alcohol consumption by the students. They should also change the educational efforts that are aimed at preventing alcohol consumption and policies on the same to some extent. The learning institutions should increase educational efforts and policies that are related to alcohol consumption. This is an important asset in the efforts to curb alcohol drinking by the students. The government should encourage such efforts by the schools since many students did not report being affected by the policies and the educational efforts of alcohol use (Bonnie & O’Connell, 2003).
On the other hand, parents should be encouraged to maximize their role in prohibiting alcohol use by their children. A study by Wheeler that was carried out in 2010, showed that communication between teenagers and their parents on alcohol consumption and risky behaviors, helped in reducing the rate at which teenagers took part in alcohol consumption. The study revealed that authoritative parenting resulted to lower rates in abuse of alcohol. It is also wise to incorporate parenting responsibility in ensuring that the parents were part of their children’s life and in guiding them on decision making and how to abstain from peer pressure (Wheeler, 2010). The NIAAA believes that alcohol consumption by the youngsters is a severe concern of the public, because teenagers who consume alcohol take part in risky behavior some fatal. Therefore, it is the responsibility of the whole society, government and parents to ensure that students are responsible.
Alcohol consumption among the underage is very common issue, especially among the students in colleges. These students engage in alcohol consumption due to peer pressure from their senior. However, high cases of excessive consumption of alcohol and taking part in risky behavior as a result of being drunk are high among the students. The government has put in place measures and policies that are meant to curb and to control alcohol consumption by the underage. It is, however, important to ensure that these laws that prohibit alcohol consumption by the underage and laws that prohibit selling of alcohol to underage are followed. Strict punishment should be put in place in order to ensure that the society follows them. The school authority should ensure that they enforce the set rules and are engaged in education forums that enlighten the students on the consequences of consuming alcohol (Komro & Toomey, 2002). Enforcing and enacting alcohol control policies on local and state level are promising prevention measures in declining rate of alcohol use by the underage.
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