College Binge Drinking Scott Morton It is a Friday night and it is just

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College Binge Drinking Scott Morton It is a Friday night and it is just Powered By Docstoc
					College Binge Drinking

Scott Morton

        It is a Friday night and it is just creeping up on 9:30 pm at Santa Clara University.

The guys are ready to go out, the girls are putting on their last touch ups and all the

alcohol for the evening’s festivities was purchased earlier in the afternoon. Groups

connect together and determine a place to drink and host a pre-party, or “pre-game,”

before going out to the actual party. Unlike the huge party that consists of hundreds of

people, little amounts of alcohol and does not start until around 11 pm, the pre-game gets

the drinking started earlier and only small amounts of friends can get their hands on the

large quantities of alcohol supplied.

        It’s just a “casual” pre-game, though. By casual, students mean that mass

quantities of drinking ensue upon arriving to the pre-game. Shots of hard alcohol,

sometimes leading to straight mouth to bottle “pulls” of hard alcohol, and every beer

game known to man takes place for an hour and a half to sometimes two hours before

going out. This form of excessive drinking, which is better termed as “binge drinking,”

has been the tradition since our parents and their parents were young adults in the college

party scene, and it is still just as problematic.

        Binge drinking has always gone hand in hand with the college party lifestyle, but

what lies beneath the social drinking is a future of alcohol dependency.

        All across the country, college pre-games have become notoriously known for

absurd amounts of binge drinking throughout the time of the party. A person is

considered to be participating in the act of binge drinking when five or more drinks have

been consumed in one setting, in this case, a college pre-game party. “Five? My friends
and I have way more than five when we pre-game,” said Matt Baker, a Santa Clara

sophomore. “Binging should be considered to be eight to ten drinks because that’s

honestly how much people consume.”

       One would think with this aggressive style of drinking taking place two,

sometime three, times a week that some form of alcohol dependency would form, right?

Wrong. In fact, many students brush off how much they drink while pre-gaming and

continue to drink (in smaller doses) at the main party. “It’s not unnatural for me to have

seven or eight shots and a couple beers at the pre-game and then have a few more shots at

the big party with everyone,” explained Emma, another Santa Clara student who is very

active in the vibrant party scene.

       What students naively miss is that in many alcoholism cases the dependency

spawns from young adult and college binge drinking. In a recent study conducted by the

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), more than 35 percent of

adults with an alcohol problem developed symptoms such as binge drinking by the age

19. Because about four out of five college students drink, the risk of partaking in binge

drinking is higher and so is the risk of alcoholism.

       So, what should be done? Are campus safety officers going to roam from dorm to

dorm and police officers go from house to house, making sure people under the legal age

are not drinking? After all, Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD) researchers have

found that adults age 21 or older who had first used alcohol before age 21 were more

likely to be classified with alcohol dependence or abuse than adults who had their first

drink at age 21 or older.
        However, some believe that dependency at this age is not the problem. Anna

Houk, a Santa Clara University certified Emergency Medical Technician, is more worried

about the commonplace binge drinking has taken on campus. “I don’t necessarily think

that students are becoming more dependent upon binge drinking, but it is more so that

binge drinking has become the social norm,” Houk explains.

        As an EMT this year, Houk said she personally has responded to ten alcohol

related calls, out of the 96 alcohol calls – 48 resulting in a hospital transports – in total; a

number she commented as having gone up significantly since last year.

        “Drinking begins as a social event, however consequences result when they

pursue this irresponsibility or without any regards to their personal tolerance or ability to

handle alcohol,” Houk says. “Many students just assume that if their friend can drink

that much then they can to.”

        When asked if she thought this intense binge drinking would relate to alcohol

dependency down the road, Houk believes most students will eventually realize how

much they drink and how harmful it is. “For most people, they realize that they went past

their limit, and nothing about the situation the night before was worth it for it to happen

again,” Houk stated. “The risk certainly increases for those susceptible to alcoholism or

addiction, because college only supports this habit by accepting and encouraging


        So what about the students who do not learn the lesson after the first transport?

The ones who have been hospitalized two and three times for alcohol over consumption.

Are they just numb minded and forget how much they can handle each time they drink or

is it something else?
       “I think after various medical transports some sort of dependency begins to sink

in,” said Blake Harris, a Community Facilitator in the Dunne Residence Hall.

       Unfortunately for Harris, he has had to be the one to call in many of these

transports because the kids are just too drunk. “I don’t like having to do it, but if these

transports can get students to realize they need to drink that much, that fast, and that

frequently, then it is worth it,” he commented.

       When Harris heard the Houk’s statistics about EMT responses to calls, he was not

surprised. However, Harris feels that dependency can definitely begin from binge

drinking, regardless of the student. “I don’t think people have to be hereditarily

predisposed to alcoholism to get it,” Harris explained. “I’ve seen some of my best

friends begin to grow a dependency for alcohol from too much college binging and they

say their parents aren’t even big drinkers.”

       Luckily, Santa Clara University has taken serious notice to this addictive

attraction and has tried to slow down the popularity. The Wellness Center of Santa Clara,

which is in relation to the SCU Cowell Health Center, has issued flyers around campus to

let students know the serious risks they take when binge drinking at a party. “Potty Talk”

is the name of the flyer and it contains all kinds of information regarding college

drinking. Facts about binge drinking, alcohol poisoning, and medical transports are given

and a new, updated version of the flyer is released once a month.

       The Potty Talk flyers also give statistics on how alcohol intake can affect violence

and sexual harassment on campus and in the party scene. “The flyers (Potty Talk) are

super informative,” said Ryan Alverson, a sophomore Santa Clara student who lives off

campus. “I live off campus, but every time I come to school I come across an updated
flyer. It’s good to see the school making such a positive effort to decrease the level of

binge drinking.”

       With comments of concern coming from both EMT and Community Facilitator

sources, it is apparent that college binge drinking is popular socially, but comes with

much baggage. Student medical transports have doubled from last year and they continue

to drink incredible amounts in a short time at the pre-game. It cannot be denied that there

is direct correlation between college binge drinking and alcoholism. Whether someone

comes from a family with alcoholics in it or not, if binge drinking becomes a weekly

occurrence the dependency for what is being drank with arrive and it will only be a

matter of time. Will binge drinking eventually fall off the map of college social life?

Probably not. However, students can help themselves and their friends by taking on a

night with only a few drinks in them at a pre-game, rather than twelve.

       The true hope is more and more students will realize the risks associated with

binge drinking and clean up their acts, as they grow older in life.

Anna Houk

Matt Baker

Ryan Alverson

Blake Harris

National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)

Students Against Drunk Driving (SADD)

Santa Clara University Wellness Center

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