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Binge Drinking On College Campuses

4.9 of 5.0 (28 reviews)

1615 words
Social Issues

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When parents send their children away to college, they expect them
to receive a quality education that will prepare them for the real world.
However, most parents do not realize that their hard-earned money is being
used to purchase hard liquor. Recent studies show that 82.5% of all
college students drink ( Binge
drinking, consuming more than five alcoholic beverages in an row for men
and four for women, is an all too common occurrence on college campuses.
With fraternity parties and surprisingly undescriminatory admittance to
campus bars, underage drinkers have virtually no problem gaining access to
an unlimited supply of alcohol. While the college years are a time for
exploration and experimentation, consuming mass quantities of alcohol on a
regular basis can have extremely detrimental long term effects to a
person's body. Binge drinking is an often overlooked problem on college
Although buying and drinking alcohol is illegal for most college
students, officials rate binge drinking as the number one health problem
for students today (Monroe 27). A study by the Harvard School of Public
Health found as many as 70 percent of students at some college campuses
binge drink. One-third of all schools surveyed reported bingeing by more
than half the students (Kowalski 8). Many students feel they 'know their
limits, ' and can act responsibly while under the influence of alcohol.
However, binge drinking affects speech, vision, balance, and judgment
(Monroe 26). Additionally, alcohol adversely affects the body by disrupting
certain brain functions that can cause drinkers to become overtly rowdy and
hyper, or lose their sense of judgment (Kowalski 6+). When tempers flare,
and the alcohol 'starts talking,' people do things they often regret and
sometimes have no recollection of whatsoever. Alcohol also restrains other
behaviors, and it is not unlikely that if two people were intoxicated
enough, they could have unprotected sex and possibly contract STD's.
Where do we define what one drink is, and when is it determined if
someone is drunk? One drink is the equivalent of 12oz. of beer, one ounce
of 86 proof liquor, or a four oz. glass of wine. The effects of alcohol
can be seen immediately. Even after only one drink, a typical 160 lb. male
may feel relaxed and carefree, while his blood alcohol percentage can be .
02. The blood alcohol percentage (BAP) is determined by how many ounces of
alcohol are in 100 milliliters of blood. Two and a half drinks in an hour
raises a 160-pound male's blood alcohol level up to 0.05. (The level is
even higher for women, because they absorb more alcohol per drink into the
bloodstream than men due to different enzyme levels in the stomach.) The
drinker feels "high," and judgment is clearly affected. Once the BAP
reaches .10, .02 above Illinois' legal driving limit, the drinker loses
most coordination and judgment (Kowalski 6+). This is where most people
get the feeling of invincibility and if put in situations with free alcohol
they may start 'pounding.' When the body starts getting exorbitant amounts
of alcohol in a short amount of time, it sometimes cannot handle the rush,
and shuts down completely. When the BAP reaches a staggering .40, comas
occur. Slow reaction times and poor judgment amount to most of the problems
incurred due to excessive drinking.
How this can occur, many wonder, is a topic of great debate. Some
say schools are not doing enough to teach students that binge drinking is
wrong and potentially dangerous. Others admit it is a fact of life that
most people go through during their college years. The problem still
remains, and there is no possible way to justify harming one's body to have
a good time. Alcohol is the number-one drug used on college campuses today.
College students spend a whopping $5.5 billion each year on alcohol, or
about $446 per student. On average, each student drinks 34 gallons of
alcoholic beverages each year (Monroe 28). Anything that has such a great
impact on the economy of a small campustown has to say something about it
prevention, or lack thereof. 'In each college community, there are both
obvious and obscure constituencies with alcohol-defined territories to
protect; think of alumni associations, tavern and bar owners, merchants,
athletic departments, recovery organizations, fraternities and sororities,
advertisers, anti-drunk-driving advocacy groups, and parents, to name only
a few' (Keeling 54). Many restaurants, for example, rely on advertising
from alcohol companies to stay afloat. How can these problems stop if
local economies are based on revenues generated from the sales and taxes
that liquor creates
I feel that I have a unique perspective on this topic, not only as
a student but also having a brother who went to school here. Throughout my
life, I have associated college life with drinking and partying. My
brother went through the fraternity system here, and I often visited the
campus during high school. When I visited, I thought that it was the
coolest place in the world; what with all of the women, music, and, of
course, alcohol. I never noticed the adverse effects that alcohol has.
The endless nights of drinking add up, which subsequently caused my own
brother to get expelled from the University of Illinois. 'Heavy episodic
drinking is also associated with missing class and getting behind in school
work. This appeared particularly strong during the freshman year' (Wood et
al 206). The sudden shock of this lifestyle, as I noticed when I was
younger, is overwhelming. Contrary to conventional wisdom, 'a student's
year in school is not a significant predictor of binge drinking. The
percentage of students who are binge drinkers is nearly uniform from
freshman through senior year, despite the fact that students under 21 are
subject to the minimum drinking age law'
( A recent study at a large
Midwestern university reported over 80% of the students participated in any
drinking activities all year. The numbers are quite alarming, with only
18.5% abstaining from alcohol use, and 43.6% engaging in bingeing
(Chaloupka 115) .
An obvious area to discuss is the fraternity life. Although it has
become a recent trend to turn fraternities 'dry,' no alcohol allowed in the
house or at social activities associated with the fraternity, the odds of a
large group of males between the ages of 18 and 21 living together and not
drinking are quite paltry. An alarming four out of five fraternity or
sorority members admit to binge drinking (McCormick 89). During a
freshmen's first year, or 'pledging,' it is not uncommon for the older
members of the house to haze them. Hazing can be defined as being forced
to do things that are against your will, and violate you as a human being.
Hazing is illegal in most states (
During hazing, anything from forced binge drinking to sensory depravation
is fair game. These freshmen consume massive quantities of alcohol and
attend classes the next day on a consistent basis.
There is not as wide a disparity between male and female drinking
habits as many would think. Alcohol-related problems affected both sexes
about equally. Women binge drinkers reported experiencing roughly the same
level of alcohol-related problems as men binge drinkers. There were two
exceptions: men more often reported damaging property and getting in
trouble with the police.
Frequent binge drinkers had the most serious problems. For example,
'frequent binge drinkers were seven to 16 times more likely than non-binge
drinkers to have missed class, gotten behind in their school work, engaged
in unplanned sexual activity, not used protection when having sex, gotten
in trouble with campus police, damaged property, or been hurt or injured'
Even if these binge drinkers are lucky enough to live through
college, their habits will eventually catch up to them. Years of chronic
binge drinking can lead to a resistance, causing people to crave alcohol.
This then leads to addiction, which can ultimately kill a drinker. Over
time, alcohol wears away the body. 'If acute alcohol poisoning, violence,
or an accident doesn't kill a chronic drinker, chances are increased risks
of liver disease, heart disease, and cancer will' (Kowalski 9).
What are the necessary steps universities can take to make sure
this problem is curtailed? There are several actions needed to be taken to
insure a safe, alcohol free environment where budding minds are waiting to
be enriched. First, actively reinforce the fact that binge drinking is not
normal. When viewing the numbers, it is easy to say that 43.6 % of all
students engage in binge drinking. However, why not say 56.4 % of all
students do not binge drink? Although it seems to be a 'the cup is half
full' scenario, it gets the point across. Michael Haines, a campus-health
official at Northern Illinois University, says 'A more effective approach
is to use advertising to hammer home the positive side of the numbers: the
fact that many students do drink responsibly' (McCormick 89). Next,
universities must make an impression that, while ...

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