by David J. Hanson, Ph.D.
The American Medical Association's president, Ed Hill, equates parental approval of their young people drinking at home with parental approval of teen sex parties. 1 Earth to Ed Hill: There’s a big difference between parents serving their offspring a drink with dinner and sponsoring teenage sex parties.
In many groups around the world most people drink and do so daily but they have few drinking problems. Such groups familiar to most people in the US include Italians, Greeks, Portuguese, and Jews. In all these successful groups children learn how to drink in moderation and they do so from an early age in the home. 2
But it’s not necessary to be a member of one of these or similar groups in order to benefit from their example. Research funded by the federal government has demonstrated that teenagers who drink alcohol with their parents are less likely than others to either consume it or abuse it.
Drinking alcohol with parents “may help teach them responsible drinking habits or extinguish some of the ‘novelty’ or ‘excitement’ of drinking” according to senior researcher Dr. Kristie Long Foley of the School of Medicine at Wake Forest University. Dr. Foley describes drinking with parents as a “protective” behavior. 3
On the other hand, research over time has also demonstrated that people from abstinence backgrounds who choose to drink are much more likely than others to experience drinking problems. They never learned how to drink in moderation.
Unfortunately, Ed Hill was raised in the very “dry” environment of Mississippi where he was surrounded by strong prohibitionist sentiment.
Ed Hill’s background is significant.
It‘s hard for most people to understand the depth of the prohibitionist, anti-alcohol environment in which Ed Hill was raised. Mississippi imposed state-wide alcohol prohibition in 1907, over a dozen years before the rest of the country. It was the very first state to ratify the 18th Amendment to create National Prohibition. Following national rejection of Prohibition through Repeal in 1933, the state maintained its own state-wide prohibition for another one-third of a century. It was the very last state to repeal state-wide alcohol prohibition. After that, it specifically “reaffirmed prohibition” when it decided to permit local option regarding alcohol. Today, almost one-half of the counties in Mississippi are "dry" with their own prohibition against the production, advertising, sale, distribution, or transportation of alcoholic beverages within their boundaries. It is even illegal to bring alcohol through a dry county in Mississippi while traveling across the country in the process of, for example, moving a personal wine or spirits collection to one's new residence. 4
The prohibitionist environment in which Ed Hill was raised and has lived virtually his entire life apparently explains his anti-alcohol perspective but it doesn’t excuse it. He has an obligation to put scientific facts above temperance ideology and prejudice.