Hard News by Russell Brown

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Hard News: What the kids do

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  • Russell Brown, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Which is not to say that New Zealand doesn’t need an age limit, just that the drinking culture would seem the bigger culprit by a very sizeable margin.

    It seems things are different now, sadly:

    Girls in Italy as young as 11 are using alcohol more and taking more risks with it, Italian health authorities said.

    The country’s Higher Health Institute released a report Thursday saying at-risk drinkers of both sexes under the age of 16 are on the rise, with 18.5 percent of males and 15.5 percent of females in that age bracket showing worrying drink patterns, ANSA reported.

    And another one:

    With a cocktail in hand, 20-year-old Nicola said the culture was changing among young people.

    “I think young people drink more,” she said. “It’s just a new generation of people.”

    Beer, shots and spirits are quickly taking over from wine as the drinks of choice – and young Italians are moving away from the more restrained, Mediterranean style of drinking.

    Figures show that while under-25s in Italy are drinking more than they used to, it is still nowhere near the levels seen in countries such as Finland, Denmark and the UK – but the change is still something even bar owners are noticing.

    And one more:

    When it approved the measure earlier this month, the Milan city council unveiled a study that showed that 34% of 11-year-olds have "problems with alcohol" (without specifying what those problems are). In June the Alcohol Observatory of the Italian National Health Institute found that 63% of youths under 18 get drunk on weekends, with boys consuming an average of four drinks per drinking session and girls consuming six.

    Milan Mayor Letizia Moratti called the new law a "response to an emergency" rather than some newfound whiff of puritanism. "It is a message to young people and their families that alcohol is bad for you and that alcohol abuse and dependence lead to negative consequences," she told reporters.

    I’m trying not to seem like a wowser on this – because I’m really no personal advertisement for that – but there are very sound scientific reasons to worry like hell about youth binge drinking.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to Russell Brown,

    It seems things are different now, sadly:

    Yes, we have developed quite the binge drinking culture in the last decade and a half, just not as a result of changes in liquor law or availability of the stuff. (And I didn’t mean to say that we were more virtuous back in the day either – not that I'm suggesting you thought I was – in fact heroin was quite popular in my age group when I was a lad. I understand it’s not as much of a problem now.)

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7320 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Anyway, to get this whole strange discussion back to base: am I happy with quite powerful psychoactive drugs being sold from behind big-ass point-of-sale displays in suburban dairies?

    No, I am not.

    Do I think these drugs should be available to adults who want them?

    Yes, I do.

    I suppose one useful point of comparison is salvia divinorum, a powerful, short-acting psychedelic which has been available in varying potencies from specialist stores for about a decade.

    There's the odd media panic about salvia, but it goes away. People can still buy it from places where the person behind the counter will be able to size them up and offer advice. There's nothing to actually stop it behind sold in dairies -- but the day that happens is the day it starts being all over for salvia. Which would be a real shame.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown,

    Also, Chris Fowlie has it right, I think:

    Chris Fowlie, the co-owner of the Hemp Store, which has sold synthetic cannabis products for 10 years, said he was concerned about the substances' availability.

    "It's gone too far, especially with its availability in dairies ... Dairies are often by schools, and they often put posters covering their front walls," he said.

    "I think a lot of parents out there can tolerate these sorts of products if they're not in mainstream shops. You go in there for your bread and milk and you're confronted by what are drugs.

    "It's crossed over so that people who don't even smoke cannabis are trying this stuff. And that's where it goes too far."

    Mr Fowlie said a licence should be necessary to sell the R18 products.

    Products such as Kronic were not advertised at the Hemp Store, and Mr Fowlie said that was important.

    "It shouldn't be plastered all over the front of the shop. If you're not interested in these products you really shouldn't know about them."

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Can I get this straight? Do you think that abolishing any age restriction on the purchase of alcohol would result in more or fewer 12 year-olds consuming alcohol

    I am not in favour of 12 year olds drinking alcohol. I do think that abolishing age restrictions will result in more 12 year olds drinking. I have seen no evidence that raising the restrictions back to 20 years will reduce 12 year olds drinking. I was against lowering the age in the first place because I could foresee that it would lead to more 12 year olds drinking (there were always outliers). That clear? Good.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1768 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    Anyway, to get this whole strange discussion back to base: am I happy with quite powerful psychoactive drugs being sold from behind big-ass point-of-sale displays in suburban dairies?

    No, I am not.

    We agree on that.

    Do I think these drugs should be available to adults who want them?

    Yes, I do.

    I honestly don't know and I'm not prepared to say "yes" or "no" because I'm not a user at all (I have enough issues with my damn prescriptions!) and so I have no dog in that fight. But I really am not sure we know enough about what's in them and whether that will lead to long-term impacts in health and welfare. We know (and I use the word very circumspectly, given what I've already written today) that some of these drugs are produced from any ingredients that are legal by people who don't give a shit about the user, only the dollar. Not all, I know, but how to tell which is which? More importantly, how to tell a teenager...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1768 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    I do think that abolishing age restrictions will result in more 12 year olds drinking. I have seen no evidence that raising the restrictions back to 20 years will reduce 12 year olds drinking.

    You seem to be saying that raising the age restriction will *not* have the opposite effect that lowering it did. Can you explain that please.

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16275 posts Report Reply

  • Craig Ranapia, in reply to nzlemming,

    Persons under 18 are restricted from buying alcohol, yet we see 12, 13 and 14 year olds regularly getting drunk. So that really worked, didn’t it?

    there's several meters of links missing in that chain of reasoning. With all due respect, I think there's plenty of evidence that your hypothetical pre-pubescent lush is more likely to be influenced by an environment where a pervasive binge drinking culture among adults than where the frig the "drinking age" is.

    And I've also said more than once (most recently in my latest Public Address Radio piece) that concern trolling around the "drinking age" doesn't really mean jack shit if there's no political will (or resourcing) to properly enforce licensing and sale laws.

    Hell, if you really want to get into the reductio ad absurdum the the 18th Amendment to the Constitution of the United States was a epic win for public order and health, wasn't it?

    North Shore, Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 11783 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to giovanni tiso,

    Was it a marketing thing, do you think? I'm curious why binge-drinking seems to have become a problem world-wide, and I wonder how much of it traces back to marketing the products at the young.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1768 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    You seem to be saying that raising the age restriction will *not* have the opposite effect that lowering it did. Can you explain that please

    I am indeed saying (almost) that. As I said earlier, I'm not sure that the genie will go back in the bottle. Reversing a process may not always have the opposite effect.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1768 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to nzlemming,

    We know (and I use the word very circumspectly, given what I’ve already written today) that some of these drugs are produced from any ingredients that are legal by people who don’t give a shit about the user, only the dollar. Not all, I know, but how to tell which is which? More importantly, how to tell a teenager…

    I've thought about this, and I hope that the government can keep its nerve long enough to make a start on a reasonable system that does actually offer a viable path to approval for some products. You're not going to stop people wanting to stay up late or get high -- you can take steps to make it safer for them and minimise the burden on the public health system and society in general.

    As I said earlier, I’m not sure that the genie will go back in the bottle. Reversing a process may not always have the opposite effect.

    But that's the relevance of the tobacco comparison. Governments around the world have, through a raft of common policies, actually put that one at least partly back in the bottle.

    You could propose a counterfactual in which tobacco was still cheap, could still be sold without age restriction, still smoked anywhere and still freely advertised and promoted -- and people just stopped because they thought it was a silly thing to do. I just don't think that would be all that convincing.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Craig Ranapia,

    your hypothetical pre-pubescent lush is more likely to be influenced by an environment where a pervasive binge drinking culture among adults than where the frig the “drinking age” is

    Perhaps. But when I was 18, (some moons before you, O! best beloved), we could usually sneak into a pub or buy from the bottle store. And when I was 16, we could get someone that was 18 to go for us. I first got seriously smashed at 16 and regularly thereafter. I can see the same pattern repeating at a lower age.

    My parents were not in any way binge-drinkers – a small sherry before dinner, wine only on special occasions (although apparently dad could stack it away when they first got married, but mum came from good Presbyterian stock so that was the end of that).

    I definitely was, for many years. The only thing that stopped me (at around 33) was not being able to handle the hangovers any more. Where did that come from? I have no idea. A bit of peer pressure, I suppose, but I was willing and able and whole-hearted with it.

    Back then (and we’re talking the seventies), what limited intake for the very young was that it tasted so bad. Beer was bitter FFS! Wine was sharp, and most spirits would take your head off and would usually only be drunk on a dare. The taste for bitter things generally comes late in physical development. What worries me is the RTDs and alcopops which are designed to be much more palatable for young tastes. So “it’s yukky” is no longer a built-in limiter for them.

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1768 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Russell Brown,

    You could propose a counterfactual in which tobacco was still cheap, could still be sold without age restriction, still smoked anywhere and still freely advertised and promoted -- and people just stopped because they thought it was a silly thing to do. I just don't think that would be all that convincing.

    That is exactly why I stopped. I got married, my wife didn't smoke and I couldn't be bothered going outside to smoke. So I stopped. On January 29th. 1994. A Saturday. 9:30pm. I don't miss it at all, honestly...

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1768 posts Report Reply

  • DeepRed, in reply to Russell Brown,

    How much has 'Joe Camel-isation' had to do with the rash of underage drinking, anywhere in the world? Or those deliberately selling to the underaged?

    The southernmost capital … • Since Nov 2006 • 4060 posts Report Reply

  • Sacha, in reply to nzlemming,

    Ak • Since May 2008 • 16275 posts Report Reply

  • nzlemming, in reply to Sacha,

    After the law, although the modes of procuring alcohol changed. No significant changes were observed in Massachusetts relative to New York in the proportion of surveyed teenagers who reported that they drank or in the volume of their consumption. The proportion of teenagers who drove after drinking heavily (six or more drinks at one time) did not decline in Massachusetts relative to New York. However, the frequency that teenagers reported driving after any drinking declined significantly in Massachusetts. Frequency of teenage driving after marijuana use and non-fatal teenage accidents declined at comparable rates in both states. The numbers of teenage nighttime single vehicle fatal accidents declined more in Massachusetts than New York, in the 18-19 year age group. Overall fatal accident trends among 16-19 year olds in the two states were similar.

    From the first link on that search. What was your point again?

    Waikanae • Since Nov 2006 • 1768 posts Report Reply

  • giovanni tiso, in reply to nzlemming,

    Was it a marketing thing, do you think? I’m curious why binge-drinking seems to have become a problem world-wide, and I wonder how much of it traces back to marketing the products at the young.

    I don't know. It may have something to do with the decrease in availability of the aforementioned heroin, but really I have no clue. There wasn't a lot of marketing of alcohol to youths as far as I can recall, but then I was no longer the target market at that point.

    Wellington • Since Jun 2007 • 7320 posts Report Reply

  • Mikaere Curtis,

    Perhaps. But when I was 18, (some moons before you, O! best beloved), we could usually sneak into a pub or buy from the bottle store. And when I was 16, we could get someone that was 18 to go for us. I first got seriously smashed at 16 and regularly thereafter. I can see the same pattern repeating at a lower age.

    As Craig points out, enforcing the law is the key to creating a culture of alcohol retailers taking a hard line on who gets into the pub, or purchases from the off-licence. It was not until the late 90s that drivers licences (the standard form of identification) had a photo, so until then they could be lent to others with both impunity and success. Grabbing your older sibling's licence is an order of magnitude easier to do than creating a passable fake photo-id, so I really think the problem here is the enforcement regime as opposed to potential ways to circumvent it.

    Like Russell, I would like to see a proper framework that allows adults to choose recreational substances other than alcohol if they want to have a good night out (and stay up late).

    Tamaki Makaurau • Since Nov 2006 • 446 posts Report Reply

  • stephen walker,

    it comes down to, "Why do teenagers (or 20-somethings, or 30-somethings, or 40-somethings) do such-and-such with psychoactive substance X?"

    well ok, let's start with, "Why do teenagers binge drink?"
    (1) self medication (already traumatised for some reason)
    (2) want to feel less inhibited in social situations
    (3) peer pressure
    (4) curiosity

    reason (4) is only short-lived. reason (2) will be grown out of eventually too, so should reason (3) but maybe it doesn't with some groups. reason (1) need help.

    next, "Why do people of various age groups do psychedellic substances?"

    (1) daily routine
    (2) self-medication
    (3) special occasion
    (4) relaxation
    (5) artistic inspiration
    (6) curiosity

    i really doubt many people are "addicted" to psychedellic substances, including THC. they might be self-medicating with cannabis though. people under about 20 should be educated on why these things are not good for developing brains. better than the "stick" of a criminal record.

    then we get onto stimulants and opiates... and psychotropics... oh well.

    why do people want to take MDMA?

    mainly because they like to dance and hug their friends a lot, is what i've been told ;)

    a lot of these "legals" seem to be such poor subsitutes for the real McCoy. quite sad really. reflects society's lack of a mature attitude to altered states of consciousness.

    tokyo • Since Nov 2006 • 628 posts Report Reply

  • Ian Dalziel, in reply to nzlemming,

    drinking tots...

    I am not in favour of 12 year olds
    drinking alcohol.

    But I am in favour of drinking
    12 year old alcohol.
    FTFY

    Christchurch • Since Dec 2006 • 4555 posts Report Reply

  • webweaver, in reply to stephen walker,

    next, “Why do people of various age groups do psychedellic substances?”

    (1) daily routine
    (2) self-medication
    (3) special occasion
    (4) relaxation
    (5) artistic inspiration
    (6) curiosity

    (7) artistic appreciation (as in, for example, some forms of dance music are much better appreciated when tripping)
    (8) adventure
    (9) for the pretty patterns
    (10) exploration of inner space (your own mind and consciousness)
    (11) spirituality - taking psychedelics in order to see God
    (12) to stay up all night and dance
    (13) because it's fun!

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 329 posts Report Reply

  • andin,

    (10) exploration of inner space (your own mind and consciousness)

    Not to be undertaken alone if you value your sanity, especially if its not MDMA. Or at less have someone in the next room. Mrs Shulgin was very interesting on her ventures.

    (11) spirituality – taking psychedelics in order to see God

    Well you wont see s/he/it. But there's plenty of other interesting phantasms of the mind, sure to keep you occupied. And I bet little Johnny and Gerry would shit their pants.

    raglan • Since Mar 2007 • 1156 posts Report Reply

  • Russell Brown, in reply to Ian Dalziel,

    But I am in favour of drinking
    12 year old alcohol.

    The older the better.

    Auckland • Since Nov 2006 • 18512 posts Report Reply

  • Joe Wylie, in reply to andin,

    I got wedged with a couple of dudes in a
    Rock 'n' roll toilet
    I'd rather just sit and imagine my food in a
    Rock 'n' roll toilet

    Look at the beautiful patterns that form on the wall
    Stick out your finger to trace them just look at them all . . .

    The Soft Boys - Rock n' Roll Toilet

    flat earth • Since Jan 2007 • 3326 posts Report Reply

  • Stephen Judd, in reply to stephen walker,

    I do feel there is a place for a very high level view of motivations that should inform drug policy.

    I speculate that the change in drinking habits in Europe's youth and in our own could be tied to a rat park type analysis. The last time we had a discussion like this, someone corrected my mistaken beliefs about drinking in France, pointing to some articles about how young people in France are drinking like Anglosaxons. The accompanying analysis suggested this was to do with the breakdown in traditional French family patterns.

    In other news Independent Liquor claims that law reforms in the alcopop area will wipe out 25% of its profit...

    Wellington • Since Nov 2006 • 2917 posts Report Reply

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