College Binge Drinking

Ball State University, Indiana University, Purdue University, what do these schools have in common?  They have all had a student die in the past year from binge drinking.  Is this problem worsening amidst campuses and what can be done to stop this epidemic?  Here to discuss this issue are Ball State University students Amanda Worrick and Makayla Jobe.  Amanda graduated in 2001 from BSU and is a returning student offering 30-something views, while Makayla is a traditional student with a younger viewpoint.

Amanda:  I am proud to attend and work at Ball State University, so it saddens me when I see headlines on the national news of a Elijah Swagger, a BSU student found dead at an off-campus apartment after a night of binge drinking.  This is not the kind of attention we want drawn to the university.  After reading the article on The Daily News website you might wonder why no one picked up on any warning signs that this young man needed help.  However not all these tragic stories stem from a drinking problem.

Binge drinking is defined as drinking five or more drinks in one hour for men or four or more drinks in an hour for women with the sole intention of becoming intoxicated.

Rachel Fiege and her mother, not only did she lose her daughter, she also lost her best friend.

Rachel Fiege and her mother, not only did she lose her daughter, she also lost her best friend.

Every parents worst nightmare after sending their child off to college would be getting a phone call that your child is in the hospital and unresponsive.  That is exactly what happened to Rachel Fiege’s mother.  Rachel was an Indiana University freshman who died from injuries sustained after she fell down the stairs at a friend’s home on campus where she had been binge drinking.  Her mother had just gotten her moved in days prior, her brother who also attends IU had taken her the day before to see where her classes would be held.  Rachel was attending her very first college party never dreaming it would also be her last.  Her mother’s quote says it best, “This could happen to anyone.”  This should be a red flag to all those out there that think they are invincible.

What can be done to curtail this epidemic?  According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse an education must begin at the high school level to get word out to these kids before they go off to college and it’s too late.  Studies have shown that binge drinking is decreasing in areas where kids are educated at the high school level.

Makayla: Even from my nine-teen year old perspective, I agree with what all has been said.  Binge drinking is a huge problem that is occurring frequently from one college campus to the next.  It is not just seen on the bigger campuses, the smaller universities are also having this problem.  I think a majority of why teens are drinking is to fit in and to be liked by others.  It is seen more and more in younger age students because they want to be able to fit in with the older ones.  What makes the whole situation even worse, is that most of these young adults don’t know their limit on how much they are able to consume.  It would be a whole different ball game if students knew their limit and were able to stop when they want, but unfortunately that is not what students are doing.  They just keep drinking and drinking and there bodies are not able to handle it.  Some of these kids have a very low tolerance for alcohol which leads to some major consequences.
Dr. Rober Glatter , who currently serves on the Editorial Board of Medscape Emergency Medicine, has a list of consequences after one has participated in binge drinking.  Blackouts, alcohol overdoses, motor vehicle accidents, and poor academic performances were only a few that he stated on Forbs.  Are any of these consequences really worth a few hours of fun? What is even worse, is that most of the students do not even remember anything.  How can students constantly consume alcohol, wake up the next morning not remembering a thing, and then say their night was awesome?

I know of one case where a student probably did not say that.  Only a few weeks ago, there was a story in the Herald-Tribune that involved a  nineteen year old Indiana University football player, Isaac Griffith.  After him and his friends had a few drinks down in Florida on spring break, he decided to go for a swim.  What he wasn’t aware of though, probably due to his state of mind, was all the red flags that were located on the beach indicating not to swim in the ocean.  Once he jumped in, he got caught in a rip tide.  His friend was able to get him out of the water and performed CPR on him because he was unconscious and luckily he survived.  If alcohol was not involved, then maybe the situation he was put in would not have been so serious.

Amanda: Yes, I agree that a major reason these students end up binge drinking is because they so badly want to fit in with the crowd.  The younger students most not even of legal drinking age want to be cool and hang out with the upper-classmen therefore they continue drinking to not appear weak.  A recent study by The National Institute of Health found that binge drinking is more prevalent in Greek communities especially in fraternities.  Males have a higher percentage of binge drinking problems compared to females.  Many of these students arrive to campus with existing drinking habits that worsen as they join fraternities or other social groups that encourage this behavior.  According to a survey by NBC News, 58.7% of students living in Greek housing admitted to binge drinking, 45% of students living in off-campus housing are binge drinking while the least percentage of 31% of students living in campus dorms admitted to binge drinking.  Seeing these figures makes me wonder why any parent would allow their child to live in a Greek house.

What can be done to stop this problem?  First of all students who turned down drinks were asked why they made that choice and the number one reason was their parents.  Parents who discuss these issues with their children have more influence than they might think.  Next a supportive campus President who takes these matters seriously and encourages the community to support the efforts of the campus to enforce drinking laws is extremely beneficial according to the NIAAA.

Makayla: The NIAA has some very bold points about drinking.  This institute really needs to try to reach out more to young adults and teens who are alcoholics or in the process of becoming one because these individuals could really learn a lot from this institute and it could make a major impact on someone’s life  Recently, they have announced that April is Alcohol Awareness Month which is where they try to encourage the public to participate in understanding how bad excessive drinking can be.  It also gave some few tips on healthy drinking patterns that help prevent drinking disorders which would really benefit people who constantly have to have a drink in their hand.

I think it is interesting how it says that parents can be a major influence on teen drinking.  I would have never though of it and I guarantee a lot of parents probably do not know this.  Parents need to be aware of what is happening in their child’s life.  Teenagers might not want to admit it, but I think a majority of them look up to their parents and do not want to disappoint them.  This could be a reason why students who have talked to their parents about drinking, made the choice to say no and then do not have to suffer from certain consequences.

Alcohol poisoning can be a consequence of binge drinking, a serious one in that matter, and students do not seem to care.  What even is alcohol poisoning?  It occurs when binge drinking is done and all the alcohol makes certain involuntary actions stop working.  Breathing, for example, is an involuntary action.  With that being said, alcohol poisoning can be very fatal.

In my opinion, more needs to be done on college campuses about drinking.  Students need to be aware of what all can happen and need to know that there are drinking patterns one could do that won’t cause a lot of harm to the consumer.

Amanda:  Regardless of how much research, time and effort the NIAAA puts into their education, this issue needs to be addressed from the home front.  Like we both agreed the first step to get word out to these teenagers and young adults is for their parents to talk to them and discuss the dangers of binge drinking.  Some parents don’t think a tragedy like what happened to Rachel Fiege will happen to them or their child, but it very well could.  Just talk to your children, tell them the dangers of binge drinking and to never have more than 4-5 drinks at a time, this could save their life!

The next step would be to have more education in high schools before these kids graduate and go off to college eager to party.  I know when I had to watch morbid traffic accident footage in my drivers ed. class that the importance of wearing a seatbelt stood out clearly on my mind.  I feel having a lesson senior year of high school in health class about alcohol abuse and binge drinking could only be a good thing.

Thirdly each individual college and university should address and educate incoming freshman on the dangers of binge drinking.  A university/ college president who takes this matter seriously is key!  This should go out as a message to the community that our University does not tolerate underage drinking or binge drinking at any age.  Alcohol stores, bars and any other businesses surrounding campus should post signs on knowing your limits and that binge drinking is not a cool thing to do, it is stupid and dangerous.

Recently there have been some very morbid, foul and even gory advertisements going around to try to scare or at least get these young adults attention.  Is this a good tactic?  I believe so, these ads that show a student passed out in a pile of puke with a bloody face definitely embeds in your memory.  Maybe just maybe when a friend offers a sixth drink you might just remember that ad and the terrible images and decide you’ve had enough.

binge drinking ad

Binge drinking has worsened in the ten plus years since I graduated college.  Binge drinking used to be something that was done at home with a group of close friends while possibly playing a drinking game, nowadays students are binge drinking right out in public.   You will see students passed out being carried home by friends, you will see students getting sick outside bars on campus.   This definitely indicates a change for the worse.  Students today view these issues as no big deal.  Not only are they putting their bodies at risk they are potentially throwing away their futures.  For what?  A night out with so called “friends” that they won’t even remember in the morning?  Consequences of binge drinking include:

  • Death
  • Assault
  • Sexual Abuse
  • Injury
  • Academic Problems
  • Health Problems/ Suicide Attempts

 Binge drinking is a very serious matter and it is time students take a stand, respect themselves and others enough to learn their limits and stop over-indulging!  It’s DANGEROUS!

Makayla: It is true that students are starting to be seen drinking in public more frequently.  It is almost like they are just asking for trouble and want to get others attention.   Well it works, and not in a good way.  College parties are constantly getting busted by cops and kids are getting taken to jail!  Is a night of fun worth jail time and then having that on your record for the rest of your life?  Many teenagers seem to be ok with this outcome because nothing is being done to prevent this kind of behavior.

I think students who are freshman and are on their own for the first year, are the ones who have a very high percentage rate of drinking.  This is where the role of “just trying to fit in with older students” starts to kick in.  As the years go by, students begin to transition into just casually drinking.  Statistics state that there is an overall 44 percentile correlation of binge drinking among freshman.

The best source that students should go to, in my perspective, would have to be their parents.   It does not matter what situation they are in, there parents will be there and will not turn their back to them.  Drinking is a serious problem among teens and all parents should have a talk with their children about it.  It will prevent the students from putting themselves in dangerous situations.



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