Drinking heavily over a short period of time is known as binge drinking – something frequently found on college campuses. Such practices are considered very dangerous. Additionally, these practices are considered another form of alcoholism. While most people think of alcoholics as people who are dependent on alcohol and need it to function, a person who drinks heavily, even just on occasion, can be considered a binge alcoholic. This can be very harmful to the person’s body and general well being. Binge drinking is more prevalent on college campuses for multiple reasons. Many young adults lack the self-control of more experienced drinkers, and when drinking on weekends to forget about school, they often drink to excess. “Binge drinking is something that, unfortunately, seems to go along with the culture of college,” Sara Swenson, psychology professor said. “Drinking large amounts of alcohol can be very detrimental to your health. Alcohol poisoning can happen very easily.” With binge drinking comes more risk-taking behaviors such as driving while under the influence and having unprotected sex. “You’re also putting yourself at risk for injury, domestic violence and rape because you are not as aware of what’s going on around you,” Swenson said. Swenson thinks that the most damaging thing about binge drinking for college students is the unintended future consequences that they face. Drinking large amounts of alcohol impairs your body and your mind, which puts you at risk for things that may haunt you down the road.

According to a 2013 survey by the American College Health Association, 33 percent of females and 27 percent of males reported feeling seriously depressed while 57 percent of female and 40 percent of male college students reported feeling overwhelmingly anxious. The pressures brought on by a college workload leads to a “work hard, play hard” mentality among college students, which ultimately leads to them consuming 6 to 7 regular drinks in a very short amount of time. In my personal experience on Austin’s 6th street, I have seen countless kids receive Minor in Consumption charges, Public Intoxication charges and often times much worse. If these charges become permanent on their records, it can be very difficult to find employment in the future. A direct consequence would be getting in trouble with the law, but a more indirect unintended consequence would be if a student uses alcohol to relieve their stress, that could be damaging over time and affect their future health and relationships.

“Some main problems might be that schoolwork is negatively affected,” Swenson said. “Homework and grades might suffer, relationships can become strained, and putting yourself at an increased risk for health problems related to drinking too heavily.” Swenson thinks students can be more informed about the risk factors and know steps to stay safe. “Some helpful tools may be: to always stay with a friend, eat something before you start drinking, drink plenty of water,” Swenson said. “And also set a drink limit before you go out.” Many adults drink responsibly to have a good time, but college students are often still maturing into their mid twenties and alcohol can lead to problems in brain development. For many young adults this is extremely important. The way you treat your body at a young age greatly affects how it preforms long-term. If you can develop good habits and drink responsibly then you will feel considerably healthier as an adult.

More than 1,800 students die every year of alcohol-related causes. An additional 600,000 are injured while drunk, and nearly 100,000 become victims of alcohol-influenced sexual assaults. One in four say their academic performance has suffered from drinking, all according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

The binge-drinking rate among college students has been above 40 percent for two decades. Amazingly, more students now drink to get drunk, choose hard liquor over beer and drink in advance of social events. These numbers are staggering and frightening. These students, aiming to get blackout drunk, either do not understand the consequences of their actions or just do not care. If something is not done to quell this destructive behavior, things will only get worse.

Young adults are going to drink, especially those in college. However, the deaths and injuries that have stemmed from bing drinking are unacceptable and completely avoidable. The easiest way to fight the reckless behavior we are seeing now is to teach kids how to be responsible not only with money and schoolwork but also with alcohol. This must be done at a young age to ensure that kids know growing up that their health is important and ultimately the key to a longer life. Additionally, the better they feel and the healthier they are will help them learn and be more productive in school and their jobs in the future.

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