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College Drinking: Stopping Isn’t the Answer—Education Is

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According to several academic studies on the effects and severity of college binge drinking (defined as drinking for the sole purpose of merely getting drunk), the reality of the situation is far worse than recent reports show. Whether this inaccuracy of reported information is due to the deliberate motivation of covering the truth so as not to cause worry or create negative impressions among unknowing parents, or due to merely faulty research or calculations is uncertain. At this point in time, that particular issue is really unimportant, as the problem does exist and is out of control.

Young college students are excited about drinking. This is their first time away from home, so they taste freedom and independence in abundance. To them, being an adult means among other things “drinking as much as possible, whenever possible,” because that’s the freedom that adults have. Therefore, whenever they drink, they feel like adults. They haven’t yet reached the realization that adulthood requires responsibility; instead, they have merely correlated action with adult rights, which is all they need to confirm the status of adulthood. In the end, this is due to two things: youth behavior and lack of education.

As already mentioned, the young will be young, therefore they cannot and will not change into completely aware and responsibly human beings. This is what it means to be young—being carefree and thoughtless. They all learn through education and experience, sometimes to the extent of facing the horrific consequence of death—either a friend’s, a family member’s or some innocent bystander. As terrible as it is to say and consider, changing the drinking culture, or even the students themselves, will do very little good, so the answer does not lie in change. If they want to drink—and, according to these studies, 44% of them do—they will find a way to do so.

And a smattering of bars and other establishments that offer alcoholic beverages cannot be minimized or eliminated, either. These business owners are situated right where they are for a reason—the great business. Wherever there are college students, there is the potential to make money, especially on the weekends. This is, unfortunately, the politics of business, and it must be conducted for the sake of the business’ survival, as long as the businesses meet all regulations and abide by the law. Catering to college minors, 18-20, however, is breaking the law, and these businesses make sure they don’t. This is a difficult thing to do when students flood the bars on a regular basis. Young students get false IDs and accompany friends who are of age and therefore go overlooked. This shows that businesses are limited in their capabilities as well, but they do what they can.

One possible resolution—actually, the only feasible one—lies in mandatory education, since laws and restriction will motivate students to drink even more and send them underground, which makes the problem harder for authorities and researchers to monitor. With required courses or seminars on the effects of drinking, including laws and other facts, students will be forced to take notice and pay attention. Furthermore, drinking education will challenge the students’ knowledge and encourage them to learn more.

As of right now, the staggering toll runs as follows: 500,000 injuries related to drinking; 70,000 cases of sexual assault, including and especially date rape; and 1,400 deaths. These numbers represent annual results.

Stopping student binge drinking altogether is literally impossible, because it is unrealistic, and so every attempt to do this will fail when those initiating the efforts approach the situation just as unrealistically. College students will continue to drink—it’s inevitable—but education will knock down the numbers and even motivate other students to rink more safely.

Don’t go for all or nothing; just prevent the situation from getting worse. That’s all that can be done. Knowledge can do this.

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