Anda di halaman 1dari 6

Robert Bowie

Patricia Sayles
ENGL 1301-704/Online
2 May 2014
College Binge Drinking: There is a Solution
Across the nation keg stands, Jello shots, and beer pong have seemingly been written into
the collective college syllabus. The problem of college binge drinking is real, with nearly half
of the college students in Americabinge drink[ing] (College 4). What could cause such an
epidemic, what are the effects, and what is a logical solution to the problem? Binge drinking
among college students is caused by prior drinking habits, poor guidance, and weak enforcement
of anti-drinking laws, while, effects range from poor grades to sex related issues, to traffic-
related death. The problem of college binge drinking can be solved by enacting harsher penalties
for underage drinking.
To begin, an understanding of the college binge drinking problem, is required. According
to the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, binge drinking is defined as
having five or more alcoholic beverages on a single occasion for males and having four or more
alcoholic beverages on one occasion for females (Main 36). To put this level of drinking into
perspective binge drinking brings the blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 gram percentwithin
two hours (36); also, consider that it violates criminal laws to drive with a blood alcohol level
of 0.08 gram percent or above (36). In simple terms, the practice of binge drinking puts the
drinker over the legal limit very quickly (within two hours), which research suggests is the
Bowie 2

goalto get drunk as fast as possible. If not enough, the college binge drinking problem is
compounded by the fact that 45% of college binge drinkers are younger than twenty-one years
old, the national legal drinking age (Wechsler et al., Health 1674). However, what causes these
young college students to engage in binge drinking?
Evidence suggests that college binge drinking is caused by prior drinking habits, poor
guidance, and weak enforcement of anti-drinking laws. First, college students that were heavy
drinkers in high school are statistically more likely to binge drink in college (Wechsler and
Nelson 987). These prior drinking habits, when coupled with the relative freedom introduced in
college settings, breed college binge drinkers by offering an environment in which heavy
drinking is prevalent and even popular. Simply put, The majority of those who binge drink in
college started down the road long before they matriculatedthey simply continued their
drinking habits once they arrive on campus (Main 37).
Next, poor guidance from administrators and professors at the college level are a clear
cause of college binge drinking. This connection is emphasized by the popular author, Jack Hitt,
in the short essay The Battle of the Binge. In the essay, Hitt makes light of his college days
(when the legal drinking age was eighteen), as being how [he] learned to drink (340), and
speaks of college-sponsored events in which students were expected to practice drinking (341).
The essay portrays college administrators and professors of the past as demonstrating social
drinking and introducing moderation of alcohol consumption to under-age students. However,
Hitt goes on to make note that modern colleges, and indeed society have made under-age
drinking taboo, forcing students to hide in the woods [with] a pint of bourbon (341). These
examples illustrate, that, although not legally allowed to drink, modern college students, without
Bowie 3

being taught moderation in alcohol consumption, are binge drinking. These conclusions echo in
Hitts essay, that if not taught by example, alcohol consumption leads to binge drinking (342).
Most importantly, however, weak enforcement of anti-drinking laws on college campuses
contributes significantly to the college binge drinking problem. To illustrate the issue one
national survey found that fewer than 1 in 10 underage students who drink alcohol reported
experiencing any consequences for violating alcohol policies imposed by their college
(Wechsler and Nelson 987). This lack of consequences when combined with the absurdly low
price of beer near college campusesit is not unusual for a pitcher of beer to cost 25 cents
creates temptations that are very hard for young people in college to resist (Main 44). Prior
drinking habits, poor guidance, and weak enforcement of anti-drinking laws have been shown to
be causes of college binge drinking, but what are the effects of this devastating problem?
Effects of college binge drinking range from poor grades to sexual assault, to even death.
First, a survey conducted by the Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse found that 40% of
academic problems (e.g. failing grades) were caused by students using alcohol. As further
evidence, a national survey that finds that 61% of frequent binge drinking college students had
missed a class in the last year and 54% had gotten behind in school work (Wechsler et al., Heath
1675). These examples illustrate that alcohol consumption, and binge drinking in particular has a
negative effect on college students.
Moreover, binge drinking among college students has a wide array of sex-related effects.
These range from unplanned or unprotected sex, to sexual assault or date-rape. According to a
national survey of college students, 41% of frequent binge drinking college students have
engaged in unplanned sexual activity within the last year. Also, the same survey finds that 22%
Bowie 4

of frequent binge drinking college students have not used protection while having sex at least
once within the last year (Wechsler et al., Heath 1675). Similarly, increased occurrences of
sexual assault or date-rape, among college students, are associated with binge drinking. For
instance, in 2001 alone, there were a reported 97,000alcohol-related sexual assault[s] or date
rape[s] (Main 40). These troubling results echo in the Center on Addiction and Substance
Abuses national survey of college students, which finds 90 percent of [college] date rapes are
alcohol related (Schroeder 8).
However, the most dangerous effect of college binge drinking is, undoubtedly, death.
Evidence shows a clear link between alcohol consumption and traffic-related deaths.
Alcohol consumption is the third leading actual cause of death in the United
States,the leading cause of death for youths and young adults, and accounts for
an estimated 75,000 or more total deaths in the United States annually (Wechsler
and Nelson 986).
With this in mind, results from a national survey of college students report that: 55% of
frequent binge drinking college students drove after consuming alcohol; 30% of frequent binge
drinkers drove after having five or more drinks; and, 50% have ridden with a driver who was
drunk (Wechsler et al., Health 1675). With statistics such as these, clearly, binge drinkingand
drivingcollege students are the most dangerous effect of the college binge drinking problem.
Consequently, combining poor grades, sex issues, and a higher potential for death, highlights the
urgency and seriousness of the college binge drinking problem. Accordingly, a solution must be
found.
Research indicates that a viable solution to the binge drinking problem is to enact harsher
penalties for underage drinking. Although a hotly debated point of view study findings suggest
Bowie 5

that stronger enforcement of a stricter alcohol policy may be associated with reductions in
student heavy drinking rates over time (Harris et al. 1). The basis of this solution is to make
penalties for underage drinking have real-world ramifications for students (e.g. losing drivers
license or expulsion) and to make college students explicitly aware of these consequences.
Support for this solution is in the results of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol
Study, which finds underage students who attend college in states with a comprehensive set of
control policies restricting underage drinking are less likely to binge drink (Wechsler et al.,
Underage 234-5; Wechsler and Nelson 987). These findings indicate that underage college
students would rather change their drinking habits than face real and damaging consequences if
caught drinking (binge or otherwise), thus, solving the college binge drinking problem.
In conclusion, college binge drinking is a devastating and multi-faceted problem, but, can
be cured. For many, college is a time of a certain blind naivety toward danger; alcohol and binge
drinking in particular poses a real threat to modern college students. These students are the future
of this country, and it behooves us all to protect them.

Bowie 6

Works Cited
"College Students as Binge Drinkers." Society 32.4 (1995): 4. Academic Search Complete. Web.
21 Apr. 2014.
Harris, Sion K., et al. Alcohol Policy Enforcement and Changes in Student Drinking Rates in a
Statewide Pubic College System: A Follow-Up Study. Substance Abuse Treatment,
Prevention, and Policy 5:18 (2010): 1-11. Harvard.edu. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
Hitt, Jack. The Battle of the Binge. The Norton Reader: An Anthology of Nonfiction. 13
th
ed.
New York: W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2011. Print.
Main, T, Carla. "Underage Drinking and the Drinking Age." Policy Review 155(2009):33.
eLibrary. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
Wechsler, Henry, and Toben F. Nelson. Will Increasing Alcohol Availability By Lowering the
Minimum Legal Drinking Age Decrease Drinking and Related Consequences Among
Youths? American Journal of Public Health 100.6 (2010): 986-92. eLibrary. Web. 21
Apr. 2014.
Wechsler, Henry, et al. Health and Behavioral Consequences of Binge Drinking in College.
JAMA 272.21 (1994): 1672-77. eLibrary. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.
Wechsler, Henry, et al. Underage College Students Drinking Behavior, Access to Alcohol, and
the Influence of Deterrence Policies. Journal of American College Health 50.5 (2002):
223-36. eLibrary. Web. 30 Apr. 2014.
Schroeder, Charles. "Students Are Binge Drinking At Alarming Rates." About Campus 7.2
(2002): 8. Academic Search Complete. Web. 21 Apr. 2014.