Friday, March 16, 2007
Binge drinking derails Denise... and others
One of my favorite movies is "Animal House." I've probably seen it a hundred times, but I can still waste a Saturday afternoon laughing at Bluto, Otter and the other brothers of Delta House. Looking back, the drunken escapades in that film seem so tame, almost innocent - especially in these days of "Girls Gone Wild" and the frat boy scene in "Borat."
I've been thinking about college culture since reading a new report from the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. The study focused on binge drinking and drug use. The results are fascinating: Nearly half of all students binge drink or abuse drugs, and nearly one in four college students meet the medical criteria for substance abuse and dependence. Now to put that in perspective, that's two and a half times the rate in the general population who meet the same criteria.
Over the past few days, I've been talking about the study with people I know and most of them are not surprised by the findings. In fact, some of them spoke fondly about their own exploits. As one friend said, "Isn't college where you should make mistakes?" He has a point, but as I read the study and talked to experts, it seems these days many students are taking it to extremes. Saturday night bar crawls have become all-week booze fests (with a class here or there). And the drinks are cheap and plentiful - penny beer has almost become a college institution. But along with the partying come the problems. Reported sexual assaults and alcohol related deaths are on the rise. Talk about a buzz kill.
Yesterday, I spoke with Denise, a young woman who took full advantage of the college party scene. (Watch Video)
She ended up quitting school and getting canned from her job because of her drinking. She's been sober now for almost four years and credits a 12-step program for getting her life back together. Denise is back in school and will graduate in May with honors. We asked her what she thinks it would take to curb this dangerous trend of binge drinking and drug abuse. She says there have to be consequences. That's what the CASA report also suggests. (See Study)
I want to know what you think. Do students drink more than they did when you were in school or do you think this report blows it out of proportion? Also, do you think schools should do more to crack down?
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