Chat with the Chief: Drink, drank, drunk

I recently turned 21 and guess what? I didn’t get trashed!

This birthday has led me to examine some things, and reinforced a somewhat controversial opinion that I have held for many years: I don’t believe in a strict drinking age.

You see, I grew up in this faraway land called “Cleveland,” which you probably know, is in Ohio.

In the state of Ohio, it is legal to consume alcohol under the age of 21 as long as you are supervised by your parent or a legal guardian. It sounds crazy but you can look this up and verify it.

I have considered myself desensitized to alcohol for a very long time, and not making it taboo or mysterious is one of the best things the adult figures in my life ever did for me.

During my freshman year, there was a girl on the same floor as me in my residence hall that had never drank before. Her parents were really strict and she wasn’t the “party type.” Her first semester here, she joined a sorority and that weekend, her sisters took her out and got her trashed.

She blacked out and literally almost died on her bathroom floor from alcohol poisoning because she mixed liquors, drank way too much and had no concept of how to drink “safely.”

Much like abstinence-only sexual education, using fear tactics to deter teens and young adults from alcohol does more harm than good. 

According to a study published in the 2004 Journal of Adolescent Health, children who drank with their parents were about half as likely to say they had alcohol in the past month and about one third as likely to admit to binge drinking (having five or more drinks in a row) in the previous two weeks.

Do I think this is the right approach to every teen and every parenting situation? Absolutely not. But I think that if my floormate’s parents had told her to pick a type of alcohol and stick to it, drink eight ounces of water for every alcoholic beverage and even let her experience a bad hangover in a controlled environment, maybe that weekend would have gone differently.

As for me, I am always the one to make sure my friends drink safely; I assure everyone has aspirin, water and a safe way home, and on my 21st birthday?

I had two cocktails, a couple shots, three glasses of H2O and curled up safely in my bed around midnight.

Click here for the previous Chat with the Chief focused on hitting the gym.