Increase Dialogue Between Educators & Students to Curb College Campus Binge Drinking
Posted Nov 21 2011 6:03pm
The following is a guest post from Lauren Verity, freelance writer and editor and December 2011 graduate from Skidmore College. Lauren can be reached at
One of the most at-risk groups for alcohol dependency is college students. Frequent alcohol abuse and indifference towards consumption cause numerous deaths on college campuses each year. Among many such cases is that of a freshman college student who was visiting the Hudson Valley region and went missing after an off-campus party near Skidmore College. He was found frozen in a creek several days later, where he had apparently wandered after removing the majority of his clothing. According to the Saratoga Police department, his BAC at time of death was .11, but is estimated to have been .16 earlier in the evening.
Most of these cases of extreme abuse are due to a profound lack of knowledge about the chemical effects of alcohol on the body. Four facts about alcohol and its consumption known to researchers but frequently ignored by college students, include:
Alcohol affects people between the ages of 12 and 25 differently than it affects adults who have reached the end of their cognitive development. Adolescents are still undergoing dramatic neural changes. The sections of the brain that deal with emotion, memory, learning, motivation, and judgement do not fully develop until ages 21-25, depending on the individual; thus, alcohol abuse during this time of essential growth causes these important neural functions to become underdeveloped.
Many students can be classified as alcohol abusers. I frequently hear students discussing their high levels of alcohol consumption and how it “doesn’t count” because they’re in college. What they do not understand is that despite the fact that they are consciously convinced that they do not have an addiction, their brains are suffering from the constant abuse. One does not have to be an alcoholic to have a drinking problem.
It has been frequently repeated that more than three drinks in one day for women and four for men constitutes binge drinking. Unfortunately, portion size is something that most college students do not understand. 5 ounces of table wine, 12 ounces of beer, or 1.5 ounces of hard alcohol is considered a serving. In addition, not all drinks have the same quantity of alcohol in them–mixed drinks have substantially more than beer, for example.
Secondhand drinking, which is a rampant side effect of drinking on campuses, is the effect alcohol abuse has on others. Unhealthy skills develop in friends of abusers as a result of having to deal with the abuser’s repeated negative behaviors. Even worse, it can catalyze a negative change in a moderate alcohol consumer’s consumption levels.
With an increased dialogue between educators and students, it will be possible to avoid the negative and frequently traumatic side effects of alcohol abuse. However, it will take open minds on both sides to end this normalized abuse and find effective methods to control and regulate alcohol consumption on campus. Hopefully this attitude will become prevalent as students become more educated about the effects of alcohol on the brain.
For anyone interested in learning more about their own drinking patterns, visit NIAAA’s website, “Rethinking Drinking,”