Binge Drinking

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Binge Drinking: The Social Norm of College Students

The life of a college student typically includes all-nighters at the library cramming for an exam while anxiously waiting to celebrate the completion of a test with drinking and partying. Celebrating the successes of acing a test or passing a chemistry course is a natural response of a college student. On the other hand, having the extreme attitude of “I must get wasted” in order to officially call it a celebration is widely accepted. The social problem of binge drinking has become one of the most predominant issues facing today’s college students. Universities throughout the United States are waking up to the problem of excessive drinking by students and attacking the issue head on. Binge drinking may be caused by many social factors and may ultimately lead to many health, behavioral, and safety consequences. By learning some of the causes and consequences at stake, one may come to realize that moderation, especially when related to alcohol, is key to prevent binge drinking. Binge drinking is generally viewed as the consumption of alcoholic beverages with the intention of becoming intoxicated by heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This high BAC typically occurs when men consume five or more drinks, and when women consume four or more drinks, in about two-hour period (College Drinking 51). About 75% of the alcohol consumed in the United States is in the form of binge drinking, but the highest prevalence of both binge drinking and heavy drinking was seen among young adults ages 18-25. This statistic explains why the college environment is ripe for drinking (Cremeens 152). Perceptions of drinking change when a student begins college. It becomes a social norm seen in movies, internet, sports advertisements and bars situated right outside of campus. Accordingly, this leads to one of the many conclusions as to why college students are more apt to binge drink. Sociologist, Wendy Griswold, stated that, “The situation in question is real, it can be identified, it can be objectively measured, and just about everyone will agree that the situation is indeed a ‘problem’ once they know about it (Dowdell 10).” The escalating problem has become dominant on many college campuses leaving them scrambling for solutions. Colleges are implementing countermeasures for drinking, especially among freshman. These range from university sponsored programs to Student Government Association (SGA) driven initiatives. Universities are partnering with sociologists, parents, anti-drug (addiction) groups and law enforcement agencies to develop a strong message against binge drinking. Movies such as Animal House and American Pie portray drinking as a central part of college life. It appears that eventually what goes on in movies must become reality. College football, tailgating and binge drinking are standard things accepted on college campus. Additionally, freshman college students, transitioning from high school and declaring their adulthood, typically feel the need to drink in order to fit in with friends or groups and fit the mold of the average college student. They may also drink excessively because they like the way it makes them feel, especially when believing that it makes them more grown up (Teen Alcohol). Through the use of alcohol, many college students feel they are more relaxed in stressful social situations because they believe they cannot be themselves and have a good time. Due to many college social influences, students feel obligated to drink in order to make their experience in college complete. Freshman students are the most prevalent binge drinkers. As they experience an absence of parental supervision for the first time, many young students are...
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