Letter to the Editor

Peg Keenan

Dear Editor,

As a Lawrentian parent, I subscribe to The Lawrentian. I read Alan Duff’s piece “Alcohol abuse, freshman style.” I’m involved in a community organization whose purpose is to reduce the use of alcohol and drugs amongst our teens. Lots of studies come across my desk every week as I try to keep up with the most current data on alcohol and drug use/abuse.

What I have come to understand is that it’s not necessarily just a “drinking and driving issue.” What I’ve come to understand is that it is really an issue about the developing brain. Alcohol affects a developing brain more than one that is fully developed. It is now said that the brain doesn’t fully develop until age 24. Brain cells are killed off by alcohol consumption, and the effects cannot be reversed.

Also, for younger drinkers — teens and 20’s — the brain and body do not feel the alcohol, until greater quantities are consumed. The alcohol level is typically higher before the “drunk” sensation, or the body indicating it is time to stop, kicks in.

Duff mentions learning to drink at home at a younger age, like in Europe, provides a safer environment. While this does nothing to address the negative effects on the developing brain, it is also important to look at the alcohol addiction rates among young people in Europe, which are much higher than in the U.S.

I recognize most of the article is opinion, but I was sad there were not more facts. I would challenge the author to do a little research. Two quick reads are “How to Raise a Drug-Free Kid: The Straight Dope for Parents” by Joseph Califano, founder of The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University. Another is “From Binge to Blackout: A mother and son struggle with teen drinking” by Chris and Toren Volkmann. The mom and son alternate chapters telling the story of Toren’s drinking from teen years through mid-20’s. Both site many studies giving facts about alcohol abuse among college students.

– Peg Keenan