In colleges around the country, binge drinking is so common it’s not even called a problem. It’s part of college life. It can either start just to take a few shots relax at a party, then a few more to mingle. After that it’s the ritual to get into party ‘mode’. Sometimes its part of a grueling number of tasks to be accepted into a fraternity or sorority. Young women and men are pushed to their limits with drink after drink to see who will be accepted. The pressure is enough to drive some to drink to their deaths. Most recently, 20-year-old Andrew Coffey at Florida State University.
The president of Florida State University has now placed an indefinite ban on fraternity and sorority activities after the university student’s death and the arrest of another student in an FSU Fraternity who was found selling illegal drugs. All chapter meetings and socials are suspended, as President John Thrasher called it a necessary pause and to implement a “new normal” for the suspension to end.
Sadly, most students do not see it as such a problem, but according to a survey held in 2014 by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) about 1,825 college students between the ages of 18-24 die from alcohol-related unintentional accidents, including motor vehicle crashes. In their prime, students alike are inadvertently risking their lives and signing themselves up for years of addiction by just participating in the college festivities the way its been done for years and years. With binge drinking, not only is your own life at risk, but the rise in assaults as well. About 696,000 students aged 18-24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking. Worse over, about 97,000 students between 18-24 are experiencing alcohol-related sexual assaults or date rape. With the rise of support started from the “Me too” Campaign, women are now becoming more vocal about their traumas and having their attackers arrested from their drunken assaults. Students lives are being ruined by the choices made will binge drinking, victim and attackers alike.
Some use alcohol to cope with the stresses of college and university demands, after hours of arduous studying and test taking. The lure of a few cold drinks after an exam turn into a habit, and the habit then forms an unknowing addiction. In the 2014 SAMHSA survey, one in four students reported academic consequences from drinking, like missing or falling behind in classes, doing poorly on papers or exams and receiving lower grades overall. Those that drank 3 times per week were roughly 6 times more likely (40% vs. 7%) than those who drank but never binged to perform poorly on a test or assignment as a result of drinking. They were also 5 times more like to have missed a class, 64% opposed to 12%.
The new territory and freedoms that come with college structures opposed to a high school life is where students find the temptations of alcohol to be more normalized. Unstructured time, widespread availability of alcohol and unsupervised interactions make a breeding ground for the beginning stages of alcoholism thinly veiled by binge drinking.
Students who are feeling overwhelmed can try to find help within their campuses’ walls by reaching out to a trusted peer advisor who can point you in the right direction. For some the addiction can be realized too late, and at that point is when a more serious approach needs to be taken. Parents need to be open and supportive to their students need depending on their position. This important time in a young adults life could shape everything, or destroy it all.
Also published on Medium.