Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lower drinking ages lead to more binge drinking

07.02.2013
People who grew up in states where it was legal to drink alcohol before age 21 are more likely to be binge drinkers later in life, according to a study by researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis.

The findings are available online in Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The researchers tracked the long-term drinking behavior of more than 39,000 people who began consuming alcohol in the 1970s, when some states had legal drinking ages as low as 18.

“It wasn’t just that lower minimum drinking ages had a negative impact on people when they were young,” explains first author Andrew D. Plunk, PhD, a post-doctoral research fellow in psychiatry. “Even decades later, the ability to legally purchase alcohol before age 21 was associated with more frequent binge drinking.”

The study shows that people who lived in states with lower minimum drinking ages weren’t more likely to consume more alcohol overall or to drink more frequently than those from states where the drinking age was 21, but when they did drink, they were more likely to drink heavily.

The effect was most pronounced among men who did not attend college. And the researchers say the findings should be a warning to those who advocate lowering the minimum drinking age.

“Binge drinking on college campuses is a very serious problem,” Plunk says. “But it’s also important not to completely forget about young people who aren’t on college campuses. In our study, they had the greatest risk of suffering the long-term consequences linked to lower drinking ages.”

Plunk and his colleagues found that even decades later, men who grew up in states with a legal drinking age lower than 21 were 19 percent more likely to binge drink more than once per month. Among those who didn’t go to college, the odds of binging more than once a month increased by 31 percent.

Through surveys conducted in the early 1990s and again in the early 2000s, the researchers tracked the average daily alcohol intake, overall drinking frequency and the frequency of binge episodes — defined as five or more drinks during a single period of drinking for a man or four-plus drinks for a woman. They also looked at how often a person drank but did not binge, which is thought to be a less harmful drinking pattern.

“There’s a difference between tracking average daily consumption of alcohol and measuring drinking patterns,” explains senior author Richard A. Grucza, PhD, an associate professor of psychiatry. “Merely tracking average daily consumption can hide harmful drinking patterns. Averaging one drink per day doesn’t sound like much, but if that same person has all their drinks for the week in one sitting, well that’s a potential problem.”

Due to concerns about binge drinking on college campuses, some policymakers think that lowering the drinking age may encourage college students to moderate their alcohol use.

“The ‘take away message’ is that we need to consider all of the potential consequences of changing the drinking age,” Plunk explains. “We shouldn’t be too narrow in our focus when we think about how young people are affected by these laws. This study shows there’s a large population that benefitted from a higher legal drinking age. Laws apply to everyone, but if they are based only on the impact on one group like college students, we may end up forgetting about how those laws affect other people.”

Plunk AD, Cavazos-Rehg P, Bierut LJ, Grucza RA. The persistent effects of minimum drinking age laws on drinking patterns later in life. Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, vol. 37 (3), March 2013

Funding for this research comes from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, (NIAAA) of the National Institutes of Health (NIH). NIH grant numbers are T32-DA07313, R21-DA0266, R01-DA031288 and K02-DA021237.

Washington University School of Medicine’s 2,100 employed and volunteer faculty physicians also are the medical staff of Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals. The School of Medicine is one of the leading medical research, teaching and patient care institutions in the nation, currently ranked sixth in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. Through its affiliations with Barnes-Jewish and St. Louis Children’s hospitals, the School of Medicine is linked to BJC HealthCare.

Jim Dryden | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.wustl.edu

Further reports about: Alcoholism Medicine binge drinking long-term drinking behavior

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Disarray in the brain
18.12.2017 | Universität zu Lübeck

nachricht Amputees can learn to control a robotic arm with their minds
28.11.2017 | University of Chicago Medical Center

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Error-free into the Quantum Computer Age

A study carried out by an international team of researchers and published in the journal Physical Review X shows that ion-trap technologies available today are suitable for building large-scale quantum computers. The scientists introduce trapped-ion quantum error correction protocols that detect and correct processing errors.

In order to reach their full potential, today’s quantum computer prototypes have to meet specific criteria: First, they have to be made bigger, which means...

Im Focus: Search for planets with Carmenes successful

German and Spanish researchers plan, build and use modern spectrograph

Since 2016, German and Spanish researchers, among them scientists from the University of Göttingen, have been hunting for exoplanets with the “Carmenes”...

Im Focus: First-of-its-kind chemical oscillator offers new level of molecular control

DNA molecules that follow specific instructions could offer more precise molecular control of synthetic chemical systems, a discovery that opens the door for engineers to create molecular machines with new and complex behaviors.

Researchers have created chemical amplifiers and a chemical oscillator using a systematic method that has the potential to embed sophisticated circuit...

Im Focus: Long-lived storage of a photonic qubit for worldwide teleportation

MPQ scientists achieve long storage times for photonic quantum bits which break the lower bound for direct teleportation in a global quantum network.

Concerning the development of quantum memories for the realization of global quantum networks, scientists of the Quantum Dynamics Division led by Professor...

Im Focus: Electromagnetic water cloak eliminates drag and wake

Detailed calculations show water cloaks are feasible with today's technology

Researchers have developed a water cloaking concept based on electromagnetic forces that could eliminate an object's wake, greatly reducing its drag while...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

See, understand and experience the work of the future

11.12.2017 | Event News

Innovative strategies to tackle parasitic worms

08.12.2017 | Event News

AKL’18: The opportunities and challenges of digitalization in the laser industry

07.12.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

The body's street sweepers

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

Fast flowing heat in layered material heterostructures

18.12.2017 | Materials Sciences

Life on the edge prepares plants for climate change

18.12.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>