College Binge-Drinking: Is It a Problem? If So, What Is Being Done to Curtail It?

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner

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Listed below area few catchy phrases associated with binge drinking among college students:

  • YOLO - You only live once;
  • Twenty-one for twenty-one - 21 drinks for 21st birthday;
  • Fourth-year fifth - finishing a fifth before kickoff at the final home football game.

According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, a division of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), "Research shows that more than 80 percent of college students drink alcohol, and almost half report binge drinking in the past 2 weeks."  Out-of-control drinking can lead to much more serious consequences than missing classes due to a bad hangover the next day. 

Some of the consequences of abusive college drinking include death, injury, alcohol poisoning, assault, sexual abuse, unsafe sex, academic problems, alcohol abuse and dependence, and drunk driving. Statistics associated with college drinking include:

  • ". . . an estimated 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.
  • . . . an estimated 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol.
  • . . . an estimated 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
  • . . . an estimated 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
  • . . . an estimated 3,360,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 drive under the influence of alcohol."

College binge-drinking is a problem. Controlling high-risk binge-drinking on college campuses has always been challenging. One organization aimed at finding a solution to excessive college drinking is the Amethyst Initiative, launched in 2008 and signed by 136 college chancellors and presidents across the United States. "These higher education leaders have signed their names to a public statement that the problem of irresponsible drinking by young people continues despite the minimum legal drinking age of 21, and there is a culture of dangerous binge drinking on many campuses."

"The Amethyst Initiative supports informed and unimpeded debate on the 21 year-old drinking age. Amethyst Initiative presidents and chancellors call upon elected officials to weigh all the consequences of current alcohol policies and to invite new ideas on how best to prepare young adults to make responsible decisions about alcohol use."

Schools officials understand that drinking occurs both on and off campus, so their efforts are aimed at preventing excessive drinking and encouraging safe drinking. Some actions undertaken by schools include:

  • Offering more Friday classes;
  • Sponsoring frequent alcohol-free events;
  • Including mandatory alcohol education in orientation programs;
  • Establishing relationships with local businesses and police departments in dealing with on and off-campus drinking;
  • Initiating Amnesty and Good Samaritan programs for those who call emergency services;
  • Using campus health centers to teach students about the risks of drinking and how to monitor drinking and handle high-risk situations.

While arguments continue over the drinking age and other college-age student drinking concerns, many colleges have determined that it may be more productive to work towards educating students about responsible drinking rather than attempting to eliminate it.

In summarizing the dangers of binge-drinking, my goal is not to lecture but to present the facts about its dangers. Drinking is one thing; becoming out-of-control dangerous is something else. Please be responsible, and don't let anyone pressure you to binge-drink.

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About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a board-certified civil trial attorney by the National Board of Trial Advocates and a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. The association recently named him "Trial Lawyer of the Year" (2011).  He has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 100" lawyers (out of more than 80,000 attorneys) in the entire metropolitan area. The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including automobile accident claims, premises liability, product liability, medical malpractice, and work-accident claims. He has successfully litigated multiple cases against truck and bus companies, the Washington Metropolitan Area transit Authority, and other automobile owners.  His law firm, in fact, has obtained the largest settlement ever in a personal injury case involving WMATA.  Mr. Zambri has also been acknowledged as one of "The Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers (2014 edition) and has been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2013)-- national publications that honor the top lawyers in America.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

 

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