Drinking Games Lead Down a Slippery Slope
> 10/18/2005 9:22:44 AM

In the National section of this weekend’s NYT Jeffrey Gettleman shed some light on a topic which many young people already know a great deal: drinking games.  While the writer stopped short of all out condemnation, I will not be as timid. 
Alcoholism begins with the first drink, and games, like beer pong,which engender increased drinking through manipulation or removal ofthe individual’s regulatory control, are a danger on many levels. 
Thomas Jackson’s paper from 2004, cited by Gettleman, addresses the correlation between dangerous or unwanted sexual activity and drinking games.  Needless to say, Jackson found correlations between drinking games and perpetration and victimization.  Whenasked whether they had engaged in a type of sexual behavior that theymight not have participated in had they not been playing drinking gamesnearly 35% of men and 23% of women responded that they had.  A 2003 study by the Harvard School of Public Healthon the correlation between intoxication and rape in college aged womenfound that frequent heavy episodic drinkers were 7.8 times more likelyto be raped while intoxicated. Indeed, alcohol has been shown time andagain to be the number one date rape drug on college campuses.
One should also keep in mind that other date rape drugs: GHB, Rohypnol and Ketamine also can play a destructive role in acquaintance and stranger rape.

While Jackson’sresults are damning in and of themselves, young people also need toconsider more thoroughly the effects of alcohol on their bodies.  The above images show the deleterious effects of alcohol on the brain of a 20-year-old drinker.  The red sections indicate brain activity during a spatial working memory task.  Thedifference is unnerving, but what is even more unnerving is the factthat all this could be avoided if alcohol consumption would cease. 
The difficulty in changing perceptions lies in the hypocrisy of asociety that will condemn a once weekly user of heroin as a heroinaddict but not see any problem with a weekend spent drunk and hung-over.  Theeffects of alcohol have been greatly under reported and distributorspromoting drinking games that amount to binge drinking do not help.  We,as a society, need to take a look at our relationship with the drug,alcohol, and start asking ourselves some tough questions.

I added another PET scan to show the effects of alcohol in a 15 yodrinker vs a 15yo non-drinker. Red is normal brain activity. The scanspeaks for itself. A picture tells a thousand words. There is no suchthing as responsible drinking it is a euphemism.


I think this kind of taboo approach to alcohol does not provide young people with adequate information and actually is counterproductive.

When painted in such draconian terms, young people will have an adverse reaction to your advice when they realize that they can maintain perfectly productive lives, even with the social use of alcohol. I think it is incumbent upon us as parents to be entirely honest with our children about alcohol's potentially positive and negative roles in society -- including the dangers of drinking games.

Without doubt, drinking games promote forced and high-quantity consumption of alcohol, which has been shown to lead to increased incidence of sexual assault and other health effects. However, making statements like "alcoholism begins with the first drink," seems to demonize alcohol, which can be a component of a reasonable, healthy social experience, not to mention the numerous cardiovascular health benefits that have been derived from the consumption of red wine.

This article surely is well-intentioned but does not paint the whole picture.
Posted by: Concerned Parent 10/18/2005 11:10:59 AM

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