Americans are not able to drink at the level of fellow British colonies. Fact. An effect of its strict twenty one year old drinking age and fear of giving a child even a drop of alcohol. I am a product of this poor situation. My first drinking experience was in high school where I passed-out at a party because I did not understand the effects of what I was drinking and the time it took to go through my system. In the years since I have realized the severe drawbacks of complete abstinence until hitting the drinking age. American students that go to Mexico for Summer break, where the drinking age is eighteen, or their first year of University have many problems with alcohol. I once worked in Cancun during Spring Break as a Paramedic and it was unbelievable. The amount of eighteen year old students with alcohol poisoning was astronomical. Not to mention those passed out in the streets or of the number of sexual assaults.
Now I compare my drinking experience with that of my wife. She is a Hungarian and like most Europeans is raised on, and with a respect, for alcohol. She could have drinks as a child with her parents for birthdays, celebrations, and such. She got to see how alcohol effected her body under the supervision of her parents. So when she got of age and went to clubs she knew her limits. She has never passed out or gotten obnoxiously drunk. I see no ill effects from her being given drinks as a child and youth. Granted that different people are affected differently. Some will become alcoholics and some Europeans still get pissed and pass out. But starting drinking young does not make you an alcoholic, and Europeans do not get pissed on the same level as Americans. I do remember seeing lots of billboards and advertisements in New Zealand asking citizens not to drink so much, but I wonder if it was really that bad. From personal experience they seemed to have fewer problems than Americans with booze, but granted that I did not meet every Kiwi and I do not know every American. I can only go by what I have experienced.
Then there is tolerance. Being an American makes it difficult to go out with citizens of other countries as American beer barely qualifies as carbonated water(Water with gas). When I moved to New Zealand I had an impossible time going out to the pub. There was no way I could drink at the rate they do. For some reason it was quite embarrassing. Then when I moved to Poland I got my hair set on fire in a pub(story to come), as I had to contend with vodka instead of beer. And finally it all came to a head in Hungary when I met my arch-nemesis Palinka. Just drinking with my in-laws and I blacked out for the only time in my life. After living in Hungary for a few years I can now drink anyone I know in the USA under the table. It is even possible to keep up with my Irish friend. It took some time but I am now drinking at a Hungarian level. I’m so proud.
People of the world, especially parents, please realize that your children will drink. Take the time and teach them the effects of alcohol at home under your supervision so it does not take them by surprise in a strange and sometimes dangerous location. It is truly the best way. And America for your part lower your damn drinking age to join the rest of the world and don’t be so prude and strict about giving a child a taste.