Heavy drinking has increased among young adults, particularly at colleges. For many college students, heavy alcohol use often occurs while playing drinking games. Between 47% and 62% of college students participate in these games. The games are considered good ice-breakers and are sometimes used to reduce social anxiety and get to know people at parties.
Drinking games typically involve a set of rules designed to ensure a large consumption of alcohol. These games commonly take place at parties and bars. The objective is usually to drink competitively for speed or to win via others becoming drunk. The games are often designed in a way that being inebriated significantly increases the fun.
There are many popular drinking games. They fall under several categories:
Researchers studying drinking games found that participants in such games report increased levels of drinking and drinking-related problems compared to non-players. Alcohol prevention experts say the games do sometimes lead to alcohol poisoning and drunken-driving incidents, and may increase the chance of a woman being sexually assaulted. 44% of men who played said that they did so to sexually manipulate other players. 20% said they had done things after playing a drinking game that could be defined as sexual assault. When you play drinking games, you’re not really in charge of how much you drink. Your drinking is at the whim of other players, which can be very dangerous.
A whole new industry has taken off around drinking games. This has contributed to them being more popular, more intense and more dangerous. Many bars now hold beer pong tournaments. Some even have leagues and keep baseball-like statistics. A popular retailer stocks a popular beer pong kit called “Bombed” and boxed sets of rules for other drinking games. Major beer companies and beer distributors are using drinking games to sell alcohol. There is also a World Series of Beer Pong each year in Las Vegas.
Many students learn about beer games from the internet. A simple search for “drinking games” turned up sites that feature rules, merchandise and pictures of wild parties. It often appears to be a race to be the most extreme.
Universities are approaching the problem of drinking games (and binge drinking in general) in different ways. Some have outright banned drinking games. Some feel this just send the games underground. Several colleges banned drinking games and then changed their minds. The thought behind this is that students should be encouraged to take more personal responsibility for their behavior.
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