Tuesday, June 16, 2009

U.S. College Binge Drinking on the Rise

Thanks to Jim Geckler over at Assistance In Recovery for sending me a great article this morning. According to the Healthday Reporter, binge drinking in U.S. colleges is growing even as we bring more attention to it. As I mentioned here and here in earlier blogs, binge drinking and abusive behavior has been growing in this current generation.

According to the article, drinking-related deaths among students and young adults aged 18 to 24 years have increased from 1,440 a year in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005, according to a report from the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. And the number of students who acknowledged driving drunk rose from 26 to 29 percent.

Ralph Hingson, the chief researched on this project, had this to say: "The younger people are when they first become intoxicated, the greater the likelihood that when they are in college they will meet alcohol-dependence criteria: that they will drive after drinking; that they will ride with drinking drivers; they will be injured under the influence of alcohol; or they will have unplanned and unprotected sex after drinking."

None of these things sound like fun. We've seen stories in the news of parents providing alcohol to minors for years, and allowing them to drive afterwards. I know in my experience, parents thought they were providing a safe environment for drinking, and didn't know the extent of the consequences to follow.

Dr. Marc Galanter, director of the division of alcoholism and drug abuse in the psychiatry department at the New York University School of Medicine, had this to say: "The heavy drinking during college not only results in severe consequences at that time, [but] it also primes college students for later alcohol addiction. Heavier drink at this age is a predictor of later alcoholism and is likely a major causative factor."

I know that for me, my binge drinking in college lead to me having to find a new path, as my college didn't exactly agree with my behavior. Drinking and driving is also a part of my story, and I'm very very lucky that I didn't have major consequences. Looking back with a sober mind, those decisions were awful- yet I wasn't able to access the "prevention education" that I was taught in school. We need to make sure help is available and accessible for those in need. And we really need to push our kids to recognize that it's OK to ask for help when one needs it. Otherwise, our statistics will get worse, and more and more kids will die as a result of these dangerous behaviors.

Here's a video about defining college binge drinking:

Here's another video about one woman's experience with binge drinking:

Here's something a little more lighthearted.

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