Originally Published: April 17, 2010 10:01 p.m.
If you attended college, have visited a college campus on a weekend, or have a child who is currently pursuing his degree at college, you are aware that binge drinking occurs. What exactly is "binge drinking," you ask? And isn't it just a rite of passage for college kids? Let's look at both of those questions.
The NIAAA (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism) Advisory Council defines binge drinking as having a "blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 or above. For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (male) or 4 or more drinks (female) in about two hours."
According to the Center for Science in the Public Interest, college presidents agree that binge drinking is the most serious problem on campus. The Center also reports that while binge drinking rates vary by college, within colleges, binge drinking has remained stable over time.
It's not just about drinking alcohol - it's about the volume of alcohol being consumed and the subsequent impacts. Forty-eight percent of college drinkers report that "drinking to get drunk" is an important reason for drinking. Almost 1 in 4 drink alcohol 10 or more times a month and 29 percent report being intoxicated 3 or more times per month.
What are some of the impacts of binge drinking?
The Center's research shows that frequent binge drinkers are 21 times more likely than non-binge drinkers to miss classes, fall behind in schoolwork, engage in vandalism, be injured or hurt, engage in unplanned sexual activity, not use protection when having sex, get in trouble with campus police, or drive a car after drinking.
Students who binge drink are more likely to put themselves and others at risk for injury by operating or riding in a motor vehicle after drinking.
Annually, an estimated 30,000 college students require medical treatment after overdosing on alcohol.
Five percent of female students reported that they were the victims of a sexual assault; 3 in 4 of these students were under the influence of alcohol at the time of the rape.
So, yes, binge drinking happens. But before college students - or their parents - just write the behavior off to harmless "freshman fun," consider the above statistics and impacts.