Monday, February 11, 2013

Carded!

So I'm in the liquor store on Friday picking up supplies for this wintry weekend ... and the man behind the cash asked for my I.D.

Seriously. "Are you kidding?" I asked.

"Sorry. The legal drinking age in Ontario is 19. I have to ask everyone who looks under 25 for I.D. And you look under 25."

I'm like, "Okay, man. You just made my day." Week/life. I ransacked my wallet but it's been so long since I've had to produce I.D. I couldn't find it. But the fella saw the state of my wallet - no self-respecting twenty-something would let her wallet get so messy - and he said he believed me. Out I skipped with my bags.

Couple things here. Obviously, I'm doing something right. I really think breaking up my exposure to alcohol is part of that. I'm looking at another 28-day cleanse less than two months away now. But I'm also looking at an extra drinking day this week - Valentine's Day. Because you don't have to take cleanse days on special occasions.

(Having said all of that, I also tried a new product that women - and men! - might be interested in. I'm not schilling - if I was, you'd be reading about 'Why Language Professors Hate Him' right now! - but it may have had something to do with the I.D. thing. It's crazy, but who knows? I've used the Philosophy Microdelivery Triple-Acid Brightening Peel twice now - and my skin really does feel nicer, smoother, softer. It's kind of beside the point, but I felt I had to share. As I said, both men and women could use this because it's an overnight treatment.)

But back to legal drinking ages. As I mentioned, here in Ontario it's 19. That's fairly young compared to America's 21 years. But a titch older than Britain's 18. In Switzerland and Portugal, it's legal to drink wine and beer at 16.

This is important because a new study by the Washington University School of Medicine linked higher binge-drinking rates later in life with lower legal drinking ages. Almost 40,000 people were tracked starting in the 1970s when the drinking age was 18 in some states. Follow-ups with these test subjects showed that men from states with lower drinking ages were more vulnerable to binge-drinking by 20-30%, depending on their education. Men who didn't go to college were 31% more likely to binge at least once a month.

Although the U.S. is not in the Top 10 Drinking Nations, binge drinking is still a major problem for American teens. They have the highest binge drinking rates in the world. 30% of U.S. teens - girls especially - report bingeing in the last month (five drinks for men, four for women, on one occasion, usually within two hours). This is a concern because binge drinking is more harmful than other alcohol intake patterns.

For instance, 7 drinks per week may not sound like a lot, but if you have them all in one sitting, it's much more dangerous than nursing a drink a day. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention classify 54 different diseases and injuries caused by binge drinking. The Center also reports that 90% of all drinking done by adolescents is bingeing. Since one quarter of the world's population are between the ages of 10 and 24, it's more important than ever for young people to become aware of the dangers of binging.

I know I started binging at an early age and I'm sure I did irreparable damage to my development both emotionally and physically because of it. I don't binge anymore, thank God, but it was a regular habit for me right up until my first long cleanse ten years ago. I'm just glad those days are over.

Learn more about binge drinking among teens here from DailyMail.co.uk.

More about worldwide minimum drinking ages from Albania to Zimbabwe here. Compliments of the International Center for Alcohol Policies.

And more about the general dangers of binge drinking from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.