College is in full swing, and for freshmen, in particular, they have been thrust for the first time into a situation away from parents where they are having brand-new experiences, meeting new people from all different backgrounds, and making memories that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately for many, it is also a time of excessive partying, drinking, and dealing with its aftermath—vandalism, violence, sexual aggression, and even death.
The statistics on this subject are harrowing. More than 1,800 students die each year from alcohol-related causes, reports the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). In addition, 96,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking and 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
About four out of five college students drink alcohol in general, and many more are binge drinking multiple times a week, which is defined as consuming five drinks or more in a row for men, and four drinks or more in a row for women.
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Why Students Participate in Binge Drinking
Students have reported that they drink alcohol because it makes it easier to meet other people, relaxes their social inhibitions, and helps them have more fun. For students with social anxiety looking to fit into a crowd, alcohol can become an even bigger incentive to help them relax and “loosen up” in highly social situations. Plus, for many, this is the first time they are without parental supervision. Add to that keg parties and the drinking activities promoted by campus groups, including fraternities and sororities, and the stage is set for dangerous attitudes toward drinking.
The more students drink, the more likely they will suffer negative consequences ranging in severity from having a hangover and performing poorly on a test or missing class to getting into an argument or fight, driving under the influence, being hurt or injured, or being taken advantage of sexually.
These negative consequences not only impact college student in question but also affect their families, friends, and entire college communities as well. Alcohol is the most accessible, widely used, and widely accepted substance among America’s youth, yet it can have the most severe consequences when abused.
How Can Parents Help Prepare Their Kids for College Drinking Culture?
After reading the previously-listed statistics and learning about the damages binge-drinking and the college drinking culture have can on new college students, it can strike fear into the heart of a parent about to send their child off to college. Many are probably asking themselves, “What can parents do?” After all, your kids will always be your kids, even after they grow up and go off on their own.
To keep kids safe, the best plan of action to take is the simplest – stay informed, and keep in touch by asking your child to keep you updated. For students in particular who attend a university that is hours away from home, there is no way you can possibly physically check in on them every day. Instead, find out what you can about the college’s campus alcohol policies, and make sure their living arrangement is safe.
Often, freshmen are required to live in dorms the first year, meaning that there is generally a resident assistant (RA) available 24/7 if a student ever needs help after a night of binge-drinking. Of course, there will always be consequences for underage drinking, but having an RA that can be trusted to do the right thing in a tough situation will make students feel more comfortable asking for help when they need it.
Parents should also prepare their children before they even leave for college by discussing the dangers of binge drinking. Though they can be difficult talks to have, informing soon-to-be college students about the penalties of underage drinking, and how alcohol use and abuse can lead to academic failure, violence, or even date rape sets the tone for how alcohol usage should be viewed.
What Are Colleges Doing to Combat Student Binge Drinking
Many colleges, including those on Long Island, are trying new tactics in the battle against binge drinking. Stony Brook University has the Red Watch Band program that teaches students to recognize the warning signs of alcohol poisoning – vomiting, cold, clammy skin, the inability to wake up – and to call for medical help immediately when they see someone exhibiting these signs.
Other colleges have started holding student seminars as well that go over other negative outcomes of binge drinking and offer counseling sessions for students struggling with alcohol abuse. Often, there are also on-campus activities held that are alcohol-free and allow students to have fun without using any substances.
For parents who want to discuss the consequences of college drinking with their children, a variety of helpful resources are available from NIAAA at www.CollegeDrinkingPrevention.gov.
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Contact a Long Island Personal Injury Attorney for Alcohol-Related Injuries
When someone picks up that first glass of wine, beer, or liquor, they are making the choice to engage in a behavior that will inhibit their senses. Therefore, if they get behind the wheel of a car, become violent or aggressive, or take other damaging actions, they should be held entirely responsible.
If you or someone you care about has been injured in an alcohol-related incident, contact the personal injury attorneys at Rosenberg & Gluck for a free, confidential legal consultation. We have been working with clients affected by alcohol-related incidents for many years, and we know how frustrating it can be to have someone else’s poor choices change your life. We will stand by you every step of the way and help you to learn more about your options.