Our View: Does state have alcohol problems?Several newspapers in Wisconsin have recently focused on the drinking problems facing the Badger state, and we concur with the findings. We’ve seen all the disturbing numbers about young people drinking, etc., but among the interesting “behind the scenes” findings were:
By: Editorial staff, Hudson Star-Observer
Several newspapers in Wisconsin have recently focused on the drinking problems facing the Badger state, and we concur with the findings. Gannett newspapers in Wisconsin have been publishing a series titled “State of Drinking.” It showed how alcohol is a part of life here. And it demonstrated that the drinking culture is out of control, dictating legislation, ruining lives and tearing families apart.
The Oshkosh Northwestern said: It starts with Wisconsin looking in the mirror and admitting we have a drinking problem.
We’ve seen all the disturbing numbers about young people drinking, etc., but among the interesting “behind the scenes” findings were:
In the Green Bay Press Gazette was a report from Robert Stutman (The Stutman Group, http://thestutmangroup.com) who met with parents, students and business groups to address alcohol and other drug abuse issues.
He says, “Wisconsin is different than any place I’ve ever worked within the United States. Nowhere else will you find teens drinking at a bar with parents because to the best of my knowledge, nowhere else in the United States is it legal to do so (it should be noted that no all bars and restaurants choose to honor the Wisconsin law, or lack thereof).”
Stutman said that when he talks with small groups of kids in schools (and with no other adults present), most students absolutely believe it’s OK to drink with the intention to get drunk, that their parents accept it and that there’s very little harm in excessive drinking.
He said students, however, are surprised about the high addiction rate of alcohol — 12 percent of adults who drink regularly become alcohol addicts; while, for teens who drink on a regular basis, the addiction rate is 27 percent. Many are also very surprised to learn that some studies show it’s more difficult to treat alcoholism to recovery than heroin.
He said Wisconsin students speak regularly of adults in their community who allow them to drink at parties and get drunk, as long as they don’t drive.
“What’s more shocking to me are the many parent groups I speak to who have an undertone of allowing — or at least turning a blind eye to — their kids’ drinking as a ‘rite of passage.’ I almost always have adults approach me after parent presentations in Wisconsin and say, ‘Thank God my child doesn’t use drugs. He just drinks.’”
Of all the kids who drink at age 14 and younger, an amazing 45 percent get their alcohol from their home, usually given to them by parents. One of the results of this behavior is that children who drink by age 14 are four times more likely to use illegal drugs, and an astounding 10 times more likely to use cocaine. If your child starts drinking at 14, there’s more than a 40 percent chance they will become an alcohol addict.
Stutman said he often hears the excuse “it’s our German culture.”
He said parents in Germany don’t say to their teenage kids, “It’s OK to drink and get wasted in our house. Just don’t drive. This is not a German culture. This is a Wisconsin culture.”
Wisconsin’s drinking habits won’t change without Wisconsinites changing first.
Stutman says start at home. Start with your family. Start with you. Be smart, safe, healthy and a model for your impressionable children.