David Robert Grimes’ in his article “Alcohol is by far the most dangerous ‘date rape drug'” in the Guardian wrote:
Alcohol is such an integral part of our culture we frequently underestimate its potency. Among its toxic effects are memory impairment, which typically begins after just one or two drinks. Alcohol-induced blackouts are common among young, social drinkers. A study in 1999 found that 35% of trainees in a large paediatric residency programme in the US had experienced an alcohol-induced blackout. Another study in 1995 found a third of first–year medical students had experienced alcohol-induced amnesia. An investigation of 2,076 Finnish males found 35% had had at least one blackout in the previous 12 months.
Research suggests that alcohol-induced blackouts are even more common among university students. A 2002 study in the US surveyed 772 undergraduates asking them if they had ever awoken after a night of drinking unable to remember things that they did or places they had gone. Just over half of drinkers, 51%, reported blacking out and later learning that they had engaged in a range of activities they could not recall, including vandalism, unprotected sex and even driving.
Despite males in the survey drinking significantly more, men and women experienced an equal blackout rate, probably as a result of gender-specific differences in alcohol metabolism. Other investigations suggest that women may be more susceptible than men to milder forms of alcohol–induced memory impairments. In a subsequent study, 50 undergraduates who had experienced at least one blackout were interviewed. While the blackouts were deeply disconcerting to both men and women, women were far more likely (59%) to change their drinking habits after such an episode than men (25%).
It is vital to remember that sexual activity with someone who cannot give informed consent is assault, regardless of the particular agent that rendered them incapacitated, and cannot be justified. Whether their becoming intoxicated is their own fault or someone else’s is irrelevant. The mentality that an inebriated victim is somehow “asking for it” should never be accepted.
In addition to its being the number one date rape drug alcohol is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States.
Andrew Siddons in Roll Call wrote:
The most recent data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on alcohol-related deaths come from 2006 to 2010, when each year on average there were 88,000 deaths from alcohol poisoning, traffic accidents or consumption-related chronic conditions. By comparison, drug overdose deaths are likely to be around 65,000 for 2016. The CDC estimates that in 2010, excessive drinking resulted in economic losses of $249 billion from lost workplace productivity and health care expenses.
Siddons quoted Philip J. Cook, a Duke University professor of public policy, who addressing the impact of the 1991 excise tax on alcohol:
“What we know is that a higher tax reduces drinking. That’s perfectly clear compared to what it would be otherwise,” he said. “With reduced drinking comes reduced mortality both due to drunkenness and to chronic alcoholism.”
In a 2012 study, Cook and a colleague argued that the 1991 tax saved more than 6,000 lives in the first year it was imposed. Another 2012 study found that a hypothetical tax increase would mostly have the greatest economic effect on the heaviest drinkers, and would result in an 11.4 percent reduction in heavy drinking and a 9.2 percent reduction in drinking overall.
The University of Alabama is well aware of the consequences of drinking by under-aged students, yet it has allowed alcohol to be consumed on campus with very little enforcement of the law that prohibits such activity. And the University seems hamstrung when it comes to preventing under aged off campus drinking.
In 2013 University of Alabama student Natalie Baine lost her life while returning to campus from a football game in an accident that was fueled by drinking. More recently in 2015 a chain of events, which started when University honors student Megan Rondini was a patron of Innisfree Irish Pub, led to her suicide. Her family filed a lawsuit against the University of Alabama.
The University of Alabama has branded itself as The Capstone of Higher Education:
The University of Alabama, the state’s oldest and largest public institution of higher education, is a student-centered research university that draws the best and brightest to an academic community committed to providing a premier undergraduate and graduate education. UA is dedicated to achieving excellence in scholarship, collaboration and intellectual engagement; providing public outreach and service to the state of Alabama and the nation; and nurturing a campus environment that fosters collegiality, respect and inclusivity.
The University of Alabama should emphasize the dangers of alcohol consumption by undergraduate students to help achieve a safe and healthy campus environment. It could do so by enforcing its own policy on campus alcohol consumption and under aged student drinking. Then it truly might be considered a capstone of higher education.