College Drinkers Need More Alcohol Classes

by: Mike Miller

Nobody will deny that alcohol creates problems in people’s lives. There is no denying the role alcohol plays on college campuses. Students know they are going to be exposed to alcohol early and often in college. Administrators know the issue exists, but are at their wits end to solve the issue.

Drinking Creates Great Stories

Alcoholic exploits make for good gossip, and they tend to spread fast and wide. Excessive drinking seems normal, because it's dramatic and it gets a lot of attention and it makes it sound like everyone's doing it.

While it's not everyone, it's still a lot. Roughly 80 percent of college students drink, and half of them "engage in heavy episodic consumption," also known as binge drinking, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Combine that with the negative consequences — increased risks for violence and sexual assault, class failures, arrests, injuries and embarrassment — and some educators are now cautioning against sending teens away to school, where they can't be easily watched over.

Peer Pressure

While some campus education and prevention initiatives, like those offered by the University of Virginia’s Gordie Center, have helped reduce alcohol abuse and the associated consequences among college students over the past decade or so, the national numbers are still disturbing.

An NIAAA report released in 2009 shows that alcohol-related deaths of people ages 18 to 24 were up 14 percent to 1,825 in 2005, compared with roughly 1,605 in 1998. And the number of students reporting a DWI arrest skyrocketed 46 percent during the same time period, to 3.36 million from 2.3 million.

Everyone Drinks at College (almost)

Who's doing the drinking varies, but there are representatives from all groups, educators said: jocks, Greeks, nerds and socialites alike. Athletes, along with fraternity and sorority members, tend to be considered the stereotypical abusers, however, with each falling prey to peer pressure.

One study by the Harvard School of Public Health, have shown that athletes tend to drink more than their non-athlete peers and to experience more negative effects.

And among athletes, lacrosse players are among the biggest partiers, according to a National Collegiate Athletic Association report published this year looking at substance use among college athletes. The report was based on responses to the association's 2009 survey of 20,474 student athletes in 23 championship sports.

Hopefully, through more alcohol classes and counseling and paternal involvement alcohol consumption and addiction will start to decline.