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National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week: October 19-25, 2017

Posted 10-25-2017

A Louisiana State University freshman died earlier this month after a night of excessive drinking at a fraternity house. Police say his blood-alcohol level was .495, nearly six times the legal limit. Now, 10 fraternity brothers are being charged in the 18-year-old’s death. This scene is happening far too often on our college campuses. Just last month, it was decided that 14 members of a now-disbanded Penn State fraternity will stand trial for the death of 19-year-old Timothy Piazza. He was found dead inside the Beta Theta Pi house after what police called a night of excessive drinking. How can we make a change?

National Collegiate Drinking Awareness Week is held the third week of each October, aiming to bring attention to the serious issues posed by binge drinking among college students. Even though the Greek system seems to be at the center, these types of incidents are not isolated to fraternities and sororities. The purpose of this week is to not only bring awareness to heavy drinking practices, but to bring about a change to the drinking culture both on and off college campuses. 

Quick Facts About College Drinking

  • Approximately 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences of drinking such as skipping class, failing exams or other class work, or academic probation.
  • About 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for an AUD (Alcohol Use Disorder).
  • Students attending schools with strong Greek systems and prominent athletic programs tend to drink more than students at other types of schools.
  • Each year, about 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.
  • Each year, nearly 696,000 students in the U.S., between the ages of 18 and 24, are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.

Drinking at college has become a ritual that students often see as an integral part of their college experience. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the first six weeks of freshman year are a vulnerable time for heavy drinking due to student expectations, social pressures, and Greek rush weeks. Many alcohol problems that occur in college are related to binge drinking.

What is “Binge Drinking”?

Binge drinking is defined as drinking an excessive amount within a short period of time. Drinking to this level of excess can cause serious health and safety risks. 19-year-old Piazza suffered multiple traumatic brain injuries after falling down a flight of stairs. His blood alcohol level was .36, four and a half times the legal limit. Could this have been avoided? Learning the risks and ways to avoid binge drinking is the first steps in changing the drinking culture within our university system.

Facts about binge drinking:
  • Age group with the most binge drinkers: 18-34
  • Binge drinking is defined as four drinks for women and five for men within two-hour period.
  • More than 38 million adults binge drink around four times a month, consuming an average of eight drinks per session.

How to Avoid Binge Drinking?

It’s not realistic to tell a college student to choose a Coke over beer, or water over wine. However, you can help them make smarter choices when it comes to alcohol. There are many steps that can be taken to help prevent binge drinking, especially among our college campuses. A few of these include:

  • Understand what a standard drink is: Most often the size served is larger than a recommended serving size.
    •  12 ounces of beer with 5 percent alcohol content
    • 5 ounces of wine with 12 percent alcohol content
    • 1.5 ounces of distilled spirits with 40 percent alcohol content
  • Learn to track your drinks
  • Avoid situations and possible triggers for binge drinking: Avoid drinking games, taking shots, and allowing others to buy drinks for you.
  • Consume Slowly: Only take a few sips of a beverage at a time and don’t drink multiple drinks within an hour.
  • Go out with friends with similar consumption limits in mind: Friends can bring a lot of peer pressure to any drinking situation. Choose friends who respect your limits and choose not to binge drink as well.

Choose Responsibly, a non-profit organization promoting public awareness of alcohol consumption, encourages you to take this week as an opportunity to learn about the triggers of heavy drinking on college campuses and how you can help make a change by creating a better drinking culture.

Identifying a problem is the all-important first step to finding a solution. If you think you or someone you know may have an Alcohol Use Disorder, visit our Self Assessment page and take our CAGE Assessment.