Lowering the drinking age won't curb binge drinking: Study

Washington, Dec 11 (ANI): A new study has challenged the theory that lowering the minimum legal drinking age would help curb binge drinking on campuses.

Richard A. Scribner, of the Louisiana State University School of Public Health, one of the researchers on the new study, and colleagues used a mathematical model to estimate the effects that a lower drinking age would have on college binge drinking.

The model, developed based on survey data from students at 32 U.S. colleges, aimed to evaluate the "misperception effect" emphasized by the Amethyst Initiative - that is, the idea that underage students widely perceive "normal" drinking levels to be higher than they actually are

The researchers concluded that the campuses that were most likely to see a decline in binge drinking from a lowered legal drinking age were those that had the poorest enforcement of underage drinking laws - being surrounded, for instance, by bars that do not check identification - and a significant level of student misperception of 'normal' drinking.

If misperception levels were not present or were at the levels shown by the survey data, these campuses would likely see more binge-drinking if the legal age were lowered.

On 'drier' campuses, the study found, student misperceptions would have to be even greater.

"The higher the level of enforcement of underage drinking laws, the higher the level of misperception would have to be for the Amethyst Initiative to have any hope of being effective," explained lead researcher Jawaid W. Rasul, of BioMedware Corporation.

And without data supporting the existence of such high levels of student misperception, Rasul said, lowering the legal drinking age would be unlikely to curb college binge drinking.

The study is published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. (ANI)

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