Even though the traditional student doesn't reach the drinking age until junior year, 60 percent of college students drink alcohol. This might not seem like much of an issue until it is also considered that about 1,700 deaths and 500,000 injuries each year among college students alone are caused by alcohol use.
While simply having a drink or two might not be harmful to most people, habits of excessive drinking can cause greater consequences which everyone, especially college-aged millennials, needs to be aware of.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is defined as consuming around four drinks in two hours for women and five in two hours for men. If you consider this standard in comparison to amount of drinks consumed while barhopping in Five Points or drinking at a house party over the weekend, college habits could add up quickly to binge drinking.
Awareness of what alcohol abuse is and how to avoid it in college is relevant to everyone because the consequences of intoxication and binge drinking can affect not only those who are drinking but others as well. Consequences to bystanders include assault, drunk driving accidents and sexual assault, to name a few.
Students here at USC who binge drink often display ignorance or indifference to the dangers of their habits. The most immediate and obvious negative effect of binge drinking is a high association with alcohol dependence in the future. There is evidence that the human brain is not fully developed until your mid-to-late 20s, and an incompletely developed brain is more susceptible to cognitive impairment from alcohol than an adult's brain.
In a study evaluating drinking habits among college students, scientists found that heavy drinkers had "19 times greater odds of being classified with alcohol dependence and 13 times greater odds of being classified with alcohol abuse compared with nonheavy episodic drinkers." Another study reported that 20 percent of heavy episodic drinkers were dependent on alcohol and that "few reported seeking treatment since coming to college."
While to many it seems like no big deal to experiment with alcohol in college, learning how to drink in moderation rather than getting drunk might be helpful in establishing behavior patterns that could prevent future alcohol dependence, as well as accidents leading to injury or death. Learning about what binge drinking is, how to practice healthy drinking habits and sharing this knowledge with peers could help reduce heavy drinking.
As psychologist Dr. James Murphy said, "College drinking is sometimes still viewed as a harmless rite of passage, when in fact [college students] are drinking more than any other age or demographic group."
With this in mind, we need to prepare ourselves to function as adults by establishing responsible drinking habits now so that they are a part of our lives later.