Pubdate: Thu, 16 Aug 2001
Source: Arkansas Democrat-Gazette (AR)
Copyright: 2001 Arkansas Democrat-Gazette, Inc.
Author: Janice Choate,  Little Rock


Two recent Perspective articles related to alcohol and the Bush daughters. 
Each author was making observations about all of the coverage and 
commentary around the brouhaha.

Douglas Turner said, "Missed in all this yak-yak is the seriousness of the 
issue of alcohol abuse." The [unnamed] person writing for The Economist 
seemed more concerned with what he called "petty puritanism" and "America's 
absurd insistence that people cannot drink until the age of 21."

Those of us in alcohol, tobacco and other drug abuse education, prevention 
and treatment [programs] are reminded daily that alcohol is still the most 
abused substance. While it is legal for those 21 and older, it is still 
classified as a drug, and abuse of it costs us emotionally, 
psychologically, physically and financially.

The No. 1 killer of people 16-24 is alcohol-related automobile crashes. 
Prohibition did not work, and I know of no organized effort in this county 
to ban alcohol [again]. At the same time, none of us in this field wants to 
see the age of legal use lowered for many reasons. Not the least of these 
is that alcohol-related automobile deaths have decreased during the past 
several years. That is in large measure due to the fact that citizens, 
community leaders and law enforcement officials have sent a firm message 
that drunken driving will not be tolerated.

With freedom comes responsibility. If only the abusive drinker or the 
long-time smoker bore the consequences alone. But no, we all pay a price 
one way or another. There will always be people in any society who want no 
restrictions, e.g. no seat belts, bicycle helmets or age limit to drink 
alcohol, but chaos would reign if all of us espoused this mantra.
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom