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Close up on binge drinking

Margaret Sheridan | Interrobang | | October 1st, 2007

The National Centre on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) found that 1.8 million American college students currently meet the criteria for substance abuse and alcohol dependence, which is two-and-a-half times the 8.5 per cent of the general population. Joseph A. Califano, chairman of CASA, recognized the increasing use of alcohol and substances that is affecting our youth in a study released earlier this year called “Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America's Colleges and Universities.”

“In this world of fierce competition, we are losing thousands of our nation's best and brightest to alcohol and drugs, and in the process robbing them and our nation of their promising futures,” he said.

CASA places a lot of responsibility within the educational system where they believe schools are “enabling the students by providing them with environments that induce alcohol use.”

While colleges do provide the students with daily interactive activities, the events held off campus are out of the hands of faculty and college administration. Students are viewing binge drinking a “right of passage” as they enter college in anticipation for Frosh Week and freedom they are now given being seen as young adults that need to take responsibility for their actions.

Many students today have noted that they are “drinking to get drunk,” rather than enjoying a social drink. Where the average person should only consume one drink every hour-to-two-hours, college students are consuming up to five or six drinks per hour, which is five times more than the recommended amount for proper functioning.

The study showed that 1,717 student deaths in 2001 resulted from unintentional alcohol-related injuries, which was up eight per cent from that in 1998. The number continues to increase and young women, who are consuming up to 27 drinks on a given week, are at twice the risk of alcohol dependence compared to those who consume only two-three alcoholic beverages.

Students that are underage are huge contributors to the alcoholism that is taking over youth in American and Canada. Fake I.D's, friends that are of age and drinking in the comfort of their own home allows for any student to indulge in excessive drinking now that they are no longer under parental supervision.

Fanshawe College takes into consideration the well being of their students by reinforcing policies that deal with the consumption of alcohol. The Out Back Shack is the only place on campus that serves alcohol to those who are 19 and over with strict rules for all of those who enter the pub on any given day or night. You can find their policies and penalties at the back of the Fanshawe Student Handbook given to each student after registering for their starting semester.

In order to prevent new students in the college from becoming trapped in a whirlwind of binging on alcohol there are things the Health Services Department at the University of Toronto identified as key points to remember when those Friday and Saturday nights roll around:

- Remember that drinking should not be the prime focus

- Limit your number of drinks for the night and try to stick to it

- Drink slowly rather than gulping to prevent excessive refilling

- Respect others choice not to drink. Do not contribute or give in to peer pressure

- Don't encourage or reinforce irresponsible behaviour, which can cause injury or damage

- Never participate in drinking games. This results in the consumption of large amounts of alcohol in an extremely short period of time

- No drinking before studying as alcohol inhibits your ability to retain information

- Avoid situations where alcohol will affect your education such as missing class for being too hung over

- DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE. It's not worth your life or the lives of others and London offers you many alternatives in the yellow pages of the London phone book such as taxi services or “Keys Please” if you need to take your car with you.
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