More and more college students are binge drinking today than in the past, according to U.S. health officials. Along with the increase in binge drinking comes an increase in drunk driving and drinking-related deaths.
Drinking-related deaths among students age 18-24 has increased from 1,440 a year in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005, according to the U.S. national Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. The percentage of college students who say they have participated in binge drinking within the past month has also increased, from 42 percent to 45 percent.
“There’s a whole culture that needs to be changed around drinking and driving under the influence among young people in the United States,” said Ralph Hingson, director of the institute’s division of epidemiology and prevention research. Hingson also said that since alcohol is cheap and many alcoholic beverage makers target high school and college students, it is very appealing to teens and young adults.
Dr. David Katz is the director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine. Katz believes that “drinking to excess is often given favorable treatment in the media and in social groups. [In order to change these views,] our society must both render and convey a clearer verdict opposing this casual form of alcohol abuse.”
So what can we do to stop this epidemic? Use some good old-fashioned peer pressure. Encourage your friends to drink responsibly and to never drink and drive. Most humans are heavily influenced by their peers and if binge drinking is shed in a negative light, most humans will think twice before drinking more than they should.
“We as a society have a collective responsibility to try and change this culture of drinking at colleges and among young people,” said Hingson.