Research Paper: “Girls and Alcohol”
In February 2006, the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy (ONDCP) released a report titled “Girls and Drugs” that purported to show “alarming trends in girls’ use of drugs, alcohol, cigarettes, and prescription drugs.” This brief report received a great deal of publicity in the news media, with headlines claiming “More girls than boys turning to drugs” (ABC News, Feb. 9, 2006) and “Girls using drugs, alcohol more than boys” (MSNBC, Feb. 9, 2006). This dramatic report is still available on the website of the ONDCP. However, where do things really stand a decade later? Are these “alarming trends” still apparent in more recent evidence on alcohol and drug use among young women and men? .
Your assignment in Paper 1 is to present a critical, evidence-based examination of claims about gender and alcohol use in the 2006 “Girls and Drugs” report. That is, I want you to use empirical evidence from more recent national surveys to evaluate ONDCP’s claims about “alarming trends” in alcohol use among young women in the U.S. You can earn as many as 15 points by providing a clear, complete, well-documented, and well-written response to this assignment in 1,000 words or more (approximately two single-spaced pages), not counting references. You should focus primarily on patterns of alcohol use, although you can also refer to data on other drugs if it is relevant to your main argument.
First, read the ONDCP report on “Girls and Drugs” carefully. Click the following link to read and/or download this ten-page report (in pdf format): Girls and Drugs.pdf
Second, you might find it helpful to take a look at the press release that the White House ONDCP distributed to the news media when the “Girls and Drugs” report was released on Feb. 9, 2006. Journalists often use press releases to write their news stories rather than reading the full reports that accompany them: White House Press Release 2/9/2006
The next link will take you to an interesting commentary about the ONDCP report that appeared on the Huffington Post website a few days after the report was released. This article by Maia Szalavitz makes a number of critical observations about the selective and misleading use of statistical data by ONDCP. Read it carefully, because it will give you some good ideas for your own critical analysis of ONDCP’s claims about girls and alcohol use:
I want you to base your critical evaluation of the ONDCP report on recent epidemiological data collected by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and/or the Monitoring the Future study (MTF). The following links will take you to websites where you can find relevant data from NSDUH and MTF on trends and gender differences in drinking and drug use:
1975-2015 MTF Trends: http://www.monitoringthefuture.org/pubs/occpapers/mtf-occ86.pdf
Your task is to use statistical evidence from one or both of these surveys to evaluate claims in the ONDCP report and the news media about a “growing problem” of alcohol use among teenage women. Are girls really using alcohol more than boys? What does the evidence from recent surveys actually show about “alarming trends” in alcohol use among girls? Be sure to base your answers to these or other questions raised by the 2006 “Girls and Drugs” report on solid evidence from one or both of these national surveys rather than on speculation.
Your 1,000+-word paper (single-spaced) should be submitted through the assignments folder for Paper 1 by 11:00 p.m. on Sunday, February 4. I will deduct two points a day for late papers. Don’t forget to keep a copy of your paper. The paper will receive the full 15 points credit if it is:
(a) clearly focused on the assigned topic;
(b) well-organized and systematically argued;
(c) adequately supported by empirical data from MTF and NSDUH;
(d) free of grammatical errors, typos, and other stylistic problems.
I will deduct points to the extent that the paper:
(a) fails to address key elements of the assignment (deduct 1-4 points);
(b) wanders off topic or lacks coherence (deduct 1-4 points);
(c) misinterprets or fails to use empirical evidence (deduct 1-4 points);
(d) is marked by lapses in grammar, by typos and misspelled words, or by awkward and unclear writing (deduct 1-3 points).
Be sure to cite and reference any sources that you quote or otherwise use in your paper (use APA or ASA format).