Binge Drinking Essay, Research Paper
-Binge drinking is defined as “the consumption of five or more drinks in a row on at least one occasion.” In national surveys about a third of high school seniors and 42 percent of college students reported at least one occasion of binge drinking within the previous 2 weeks.
While national surveys have documented a significant decline in the use of other drugs by high school seniors and college-age youths, there have been only modest declines in the numbers reporting binge drinking. Teenagers and young adults drink alcoholic beverages at about the same rates they did 5 years ago. Binge drinking increases the risk for alcohol-related injury, especially for young people, who often combine alcohol with other high risk activities, such as impaired driving. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the four leading injury-related causes of death among youths under the age of 20 are motor vehicle crashes, homicides, suicides, and drowning. Alcohol is involved in many of these deaths.
Sexual encounters with their inherent risks of pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, and HIV exposure, as well as date rape and other violence, can and do occur more frequently while students are consuming large amounts of alcohol by binge drinking.
Binge drinking, or the partying lifestyle of young people, may be related to an environment that appears to support heavy drinking. Youths report that alcohol is more easily available to them today than it was 5 years ago, and there is a high correlation between availability and use. In addition, alcoholic beverages remain inexpensive in comparison with other beverages, especially beer when purchased in kegs, often the center of a party.
As young people enter the culture of the college campus, they are confronted with many challenges and opportunities: the opportunity to be independent of parental control; the need to conform; and the insecurity of a new social setting. Forty-one percent of college students engage in binge drinking, as compared to 34 percent of their non-college counterparts.
Another factor that may add to the college setting as a high-risk environment for binge drinking is that youths on college campuses are targets of heavy marketing of alcoholic beverages. Beer companies are especially active in promoting to college students. Student newspapers and campus bulletin boards boast ads for happy hours with price reductions and other incentives that promote heavy drinking. Representatives of the alcohol industry, including producers, wholesalers, and retailers, sponsor campus social, sporting, and cultural events, even on campuses where the majority of participants are under the age of 21.
Prevention strategies in response to binge drinking by young people include actions to reduce alcohol availability, such as increases in price, and responsible beverage service practices, especially at parties. Some communities require keg tagging, which requires kegs to be labeled with a serial number identifying the purchaser in case the keg is discovered at an underage drinking party. Other strategies include restrictions on marketing and promotion practices that glamorize heavy drinking, especially those directed at young people.