A recent report shows that binge drinking is high among college-age individuals.
While many colleges such as USF require students to take an alcohol education course online, a study conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism showed about 1,700 college students die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, most often due to car crashes.
Dean of the USF College of Public Health Donna Petersen said binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks for men and four or more for women within a two-hour period. About 51 percent of students between the ages of 18-20 binge drink, which is the highest proportion of binge drinking among all drinkers. About 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 is in the form of binge drinking episodes.
She said while underage binge drinking is very prevalent in college, those of the legal age also have high tendencies to engage in binge drinking episodes. The majority of binge drinkers for the legal age group are over 26 years old.
USF students, such as Alyssa Reilly, said college is a time to cut loose and not worry about how much students drink.
“I feel socially accepted when I drink with my friends,” Reilly said. “This is the time to get wasted and not make the best choices with little consequence.”
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, long-term risks from binge drinking include liver disease, neurologic damage, high blood pressure, stroke and cardiovascular disease.
“Binge drinking is clearly associated with unintentional injuries, including car crashes, falls, burns and drowning, as well as intentional injuries, including firearm injuries, sexual assaults and intimate partner violence,” Petersen said. “It can cause acute alcohol poisoning, which can lead to death, and create unwanted sexual activity that results in sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies.”
Petersen said for youths, binge drinking, which is the predominant method of underage drinking, also increases the risk of school problems, social problems, legal problems, including arrests for drunk driving or physical assault, memory problems and disruption in brain, growth and sexual development that may have a life long impact.
While most students know the major risks of excessive drinking, USF students like 21-year-old Ashlee Vaill, still choose to participate because it’s a norm in college.
“What else is there to do on the weekends if you’re not drinking?” she said.