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Dangerous Drinking Occurring in Dorms

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I recently read a novel by Barbara Delinsky titled Not My Daughter. The book is about a group of three small-town high school friends who make a pregnancy pact. One of the girls’ mothers is the local high school principal. When all three become pregnant, the small town is in an uproar. Residents begin blaming the girls and their parents, and threaten to force the principal out of her job. Everyone believes that their daughter would never get pregnant at such a young age.

This story reminds me of the way many parents want to believe that their child would never drink alcohol until reaching the age of twenty-one, but the truth is that many college students drink. Some students do not, but parties that involve underage drinking are extremely common on college campuses around the country- even if people want to deny it. Drinking is particularly excessive at colleges where Greek life (i.e. fraternities and sororities) is prominent and at colleges with well-known athletic teams.

Parents should talk to their college-age children about the dangers of binge drinking and alcoholism, even though their child may or may not drink. Being caught with alcohol in your dorm room or being caught drinking while underage just might get you in trouble at school, too. I know that my college campus had strict rules regarding alcohol, but of course the parties and drinking happened anyway.

MADD

The organization Mothers Against Drunk Driving offers some eye-opening statistics on their website.

  • A 2008 study found that young adults aged 18 to 22 who were enrolled full-time in college were more likely than their peers not enrolled full-time to use alcohol in the past month, binge drink, and drink heavily.
  • 57.8 percent of full-time college students aged 18 to 20 used alcohol in the past month, 40.1 percent engaged in binge alcohol use, and 16.6 percent engaged in heavy alcohol use.
  • Each year, drinking by college students, ages 18-24, contributes to an estimated 1,700 student deaths, almost 600,000 injuries, almost 700,000 assaults, more than 90,000 sexual assaults, and 474,000 engaging in unprotected sex. In 2001, 2.8 million college students drove a car while under the influence of alcohol.
  • In 2007, the U.S. Surgeon General estimated that approximately 5,000 persons under age 21 die from alcohol-related injuries involving underage drinking each year.

This data alone should be enough to cause young people to re-think some of their habits, but like I said earlier, people drink. Binge drinking is especially popular among college students.

What is Binge Drinking?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (often shortened to the CDC) explains that binge drinking occurs when men consume 5 or more alcoholic drinks and when women consume 4 or more alcoholic drinks in about a 2 hour timeframe. Binge drinking is usually done just for the sake of partying or getting drunk, but the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recently redefined the term “binge drinking” as anytime one reaches a peak BAC of 0.08% or higher.

Approximately 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is consumed while binge drinking, and the group of current drinkers that binge drink is highest among 18- to 20-year-olds.

Why is binge drinking so common among young people? Advertisements for bars or clubs and for alcoholic beverages make drinking seem fun, and parties involving alcohol are a main feature of the social life of most college students. Some students may not want to drink initially, but sometimes peer pressure gets the better of them.

Most people who drink socially assume that binge drinking is okay because they only do it on the weekends, and most people who binge drink are not alcoholics, but binge drinking causes impaired judgment which often leads to unwanted sexual encounters, pregnancy or STD’s, alcohol-related traffic accidents or injuries, alcohol poisoning, and many other situations. Over time, binge drinking also contributes to serious health problems.

Am I An Alcoholic?

Just because you enjoy binge drinking, you are not necessarily an alcoholic. An alcoholic is a person that suffers from alcoholism, which means that their body is dependent on alcohol. Alcoholics need alcohol to get through their daily lives. They are controlled by alcohol and they can’t control how much they drink. They do not care if their drinking is causing serious problems in their life because they need it to survive.

Although most binge drinkers probably do not suffer from alcoholism, college students can become alcoholics. They may get to the point that their grades suffer, they can’t even get out of bed to attend classes, and they can’t function without alcohol in their system. They will do whatever it takes to get their hands on alcohol because they need it to survive.

The Mayo Clinic offers a list of potential symptoms of alcoholism on their website.

  • Drinking alone or in secret
  • Being unable to limit the amount of alcohol you drink
  • Not remembering conversations or commitments, sometimes referred to as “blacking out”
  • Making a ritual of having drinks before, with or after dinner and becoming annoyed when this ritual is disturbed or questioned
  • Losing interest in activities and hobbies that used to bring pleasure
  • Feeling a need or compulsion to drink
  • Irritability when your usual drinking time nears, especially if alcohol isn’t available
  • Keeping alcohol in unlikely places at home, at work or in the car
  • Gulping drinks, ordering doubles, becoming intoxicated intentionally to feel good or drinking to feel “normal”
  • Having legal problems or problems with relationships, employment or finances
  • Building a tolerance to alcohol so that you need an increasing number of drinks to feel alcohol’s effects
  • Experiencing physical withdrawal symptoms — such as nausea, sweating and shaking — if you don’t drink

Drinking is common among college students, and the information in this blog is not intended to be a substitute for professional health care or professional advice. If you think that you or someone you know has a problem with drinking, the best thing you can do is seek help.

Sources and References:

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Binge Drinking Stats

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism FAQ’s

Mayo Clinic Symptoms of Alcoholism

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Melissa Rhone+

Melissa Rhone earned her Bachelor of Music in Education from the University of Tampa. She resides in the Tampa Bay area and enjoys writing about college, pop culture, and epilepsy awareness.


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