College is a time of exploring, creating friendships and networking to build a future career…
The Dangers of Spring Break Binge Drinking
Teens and college students heading out for spring break this year need to understand this rite of passage’s greatest danger: binge drinking. Too many young people have a lax attitude about drinking to excess and fail to realize that this kind of behavior isn’t a joke, that it has serious and even fatal consequences. If you have a teen or college-aged son or daughter making plans for spring break, sit down for a talk. With education about the facts, young people will be more empowered to make good choices while still enjoying a break from school.
Binge Drinking: The Facts
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, we are a country of binge drinkers. Both adults and young adults are guilty of drinking this way, which means having five or more drinks in two hours for men and four or more for women. Underage drinkers binge more than any other age group, with 92 percent of alcohol consumed by under-21s in the form of binge drinking.
Data collected on college students show that about half of these young adults binge drink and do so especially excessively during spring break. Studies have found that college students specifically plan on drinking more than normal while on spring break and that male students report having 18 drinks per day and females 10 drinks per day on average.
The Consequences of Binge Drinking
While many college students and underage drinkers binge regularly, many others drink even more when on spring break. The consequences of this uptick in drinking are serious and range from getting in trouble with the police to dying of alcohol poisoning or accidents and everything in-between:
- 1,800 college students die each year from accidents and injuries caused by drinking.
- 646,000 students are assaulted each year by a peer who has been drinking.
- Nearly 600,000 students each year suffer injuries from accidents had while drunk.
- Close to 100,000 incidents of sexual assault or rape each year are related to drinking.
- 110,000 students are too intoxicated to remember if they consented to having sex.
- 7 million college students drive drunk each year.
- 54 percent of binge drinkers report blacking out and not remembering what happened while drinking.
- 150,000 college students develop health problems related to alcohol use every year.
- 5 percent of college students get in trouble with police because of drinking.
- 20 percent of college students meet criteria for having an alcohol use disorder.
Some of the most immediate and terrifying risks that binge drinking poses to young people on spring break include alcohol poisoning, accidents, assaults, rapes, unprotected sex and getting arrested. Other consequences are less immediate but still serious and include developing an addiction, feeling suicidal and developing physical health problems. The latter can include liver damage, sexually transmitted diseases or unintended pregnancies, high blood pressure, heart disease, stroke and neurological damage.
Protecting Young People
The best way to protect young people from the harmful consequences of spring break binge drinking is to avoid spring break. Even with the best intentions, many teens and college students end up bowing to peer pressure. If your child plans to go on spring break, encourage a safer alternative such as a church trip or a volunteer vacation. If your child is unconvinced and is going to a spring break hot spot, you can help protect him or her by talking about drinking. Young people whose parents talk about the risks and what they expect when it comes to drinking have been shown to make better choices. Have that talk and you could be saving your child’s life.