A Sober Assessment of High-Risk Drinking in College

College is in full swing, a time for new experiences, meeting people, and making memories that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately for many, it is also a time of excessive drinking and dealing with its aftermath—vandalism, violence, sexual aggression, and even death.

The statistics 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, many through binge drinking which is defined as consuming five drinks or more in a row for men, and four drinks or more in a row for women.

Students report that they drink alcohol because it makes it easier to meet other people, relaxes their social inhibitions, and helps them have more fun. 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, 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 the college student but their families, friends and entire college communities as well.  Alcohol is the most widely used substance of abuse among America’s youth.

What can parents do? They can inquire about campus alcohol policies, keep in touch with their sons and daughters, and ask about roommates and living arrangements. They should also discuss the penalties for underage drinking, and how alcohol use can lead to date rape, violence, and academic failure.

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.

For parents who want to discuss the consequences of college drinking with their sons and daughters, a variety of helpful resources are available from NIAAA at www.CollegeDrinkingPrevention.gov.

If you or someone you care about has been injured in an alcohol-related incident, contact Rosenberg & Gluck, personal injury attorneys, for a free, confidential legal consultation to learn more about your options.