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Back away from binge drinking

By Our Stance
On September 5, 2011

Across college campuses all over the United States, there has been a persistent problem that continues to be grappled with: binge drinking.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person's blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or more. This typically occurs when men consume five or more drinks and when women consume four or more drinks in about two hours, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

Binge drinking is also a significant problem with underage drinkers. According to national surveys cited by the CDC, 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the U.S. is in the form of binge drinks.

The CDC has also found significant health problems that are associated with binge drinking. These include alcohol poisoning, unintended pregnancy, high blood pressure, neurological damage and sexual dysfunction. Binge drinking has been a constant trend that will not go away. According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, incidences of heavy drinking among college students have been steady for more than 30 years. According to a survey cited by the Huffington Post, alcohol has emerged as a more significant factor in cases of campus sexual assault and violence since 1994.

The damage that can be inflicted as a result of binge drinking is very clear and must be addressed. It is important to note that UCF has made a concerted effort to address the issue of alcohol education. The Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention Programming Office provides a wide range of services to students, including education, prevention, counseling and referrals. This office also provides another program, called Brief Alcohol Screening for College Students, which is an individually delivered alcohol abuse prevention program for college students. According to AOD, it is supported by empirical research.

Other universities, such as Dartmouth College, have decided to treat this issue like a public health problem. To that end, its president, Jim Yong Kim, announced the formation of the National Learning Collaborative on High-Risk Drinking, which was created to test out new strategies and scientifically measure the results, according to the Washington Post. Several universities, including Duke, Cornell and Princeton, signed up for the initiative.

Making progress on resolving the issue of binge drinking will require a change in the culture of drinking on college campuses. The Task Force on College Drinking, a group composed of experienced administrators and scientists, examined what both schools and researchers must do to create successful prevention programs, according to They do not recommend an outright prohibition on college drinking but instead say that the culture of drinking on college campuses and surrounding communities must change.

There are recommendations of the task force for schools to intervene at three levels: the individual-student level, the level of the whole student body and the community level.

Although universities must take these steps, it will also be incumbent upon us to remember to be responsible when consuming alcohol. No prevention strategy can account for every circumstance in which students might find themselves engaging in excessive drinking; therefore, we must all take it upon ourselves to make sure we are acting responsibly when it comes to this issue. There is much that universities can do to prevent excessive drinking on college campuses, but changing our own mindsets and behaviors is the only way to truly reverse this dangerous trend.

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