Our drinking culture
Athens-Clarke County, known for its downtown scene, boasts of over 100 bars and alcohol providers. During football season, the downtown area takes over north campus of UGA and beyond, where alcohol is everywhere. Children picnic with their families and toss bean bags into corn hole games amidst beer bottles and solo cups filled with mixed drinks. On any given day, our downtown high school students walk past over 25 fraternity and sorority houses and watch as tables are set out and black vinyl hung in an attempt to “hide” the weekend parties. They arrive on Monday morning to see solo cups littering the sidewalk.
Social occasions are no longer birthday parties for children; now parents are encouraged to hang out and partake in an adult beverages while the kids sip on their punch. Convenient stores place displays outside the store as well as just inside the open glass windows, giving out invitations from Hairy Dawg to come checkout the latest Budweiser special. Kroger has a walk-in beer cooler, complete with UGA posters and advertisements, inviting consumers to partake of the wonders of the UGA world…exotic beer in all sizes, shapes and colors.
Another example is our very own local brewery, Terrapin, who supports many local charities and fundraisers in Athens. But these festivals that promote kid friendly events and family attractions surround partakers with advertisements and cute and attractive turtle displays used to promote their own line of beer. Once called the Twilight Criterium, a national attraction for bike riders around the country, now renamed Terrapin Criterium, is a prime example of the pervasiveness of alcohol marketing and retail availability in the community.
A survey performed by the Department of Behavioral Health and Development Disabilities (DBHDD) of 26 year olds and above prove revealing about the perception of alcohol use amongst adults in our area and confirm the importance of focusing on the first goal: Reduce the early onset of alcohol use among 9-20 year olds.
The majority of the community members who took the survey were teachers and parents in the school district, so the data is relevant to participants having an understanding of the 9-20 year old (primarily school aged) population since teachers and parents interact with this age group on a daily basis.
One finding in the surveys regarding adult perception of underage drinking was that males tended to think of underage drinking as less of a problem than females. Black and Hispanic respondents tended to see less of a problem with underage drinking as well.
Another piece of the data indicates that the majority of responding adults indicated that it is very easy for underage persons in the community to obtain alcohol.
Finally, interesting to note as a factor related to the community’s problems, most adults 26+ surveyed did not see a significant problem with other adults being drunk in public and only 10% indicate that they have a problem with public drunkenness by other adults.
Related to the research on the influence of adult drinking behaviors on youth behavior, this finding is particularly noteworthy.