Indiana Daily Student

COLUMN: Binge drinking in college can lead to alcoholism later


If you’re an IU student, chances are you know about the excitement of Little 500, and its parties. You might not know the binge drinking at these parties can lead to alcoholism later.

IU should strengthen its preventative alcohol abuse education instead of just handing out drinking tickets.

When I was a freshman, I had to take a quiz about drug and alcohol abuse. I took the whole thing and passed and didn’t think about it again until talking to some of my friends who never even took it — they paid other people to take it for them.

The bare minimum was bypassed, and these people didn’t ever receive education about alcohol abuse. When you go to a school that’s consistently talked about for its parties, that’s an issue.

Habitual drinking is dangerous, and it happens a lot at IU. Even if it is a small sector of the student population that is binge drinking, any amount of students at risk of later struggling with alcoholism is too large for IU to just ignore.

Something I didn’t realize is that it’s fairly easy to binge drink. If you’re an adult woman and drink four 12-ounce beers in an hour, you’re binge drinking. If you’re a man, make it five.

About 90 percent of alcohol consumed by young people is done so by binge drinking. Binge drinking at a party once won’t necessarily cause alcoholism, but repeated binge patterns can.

Little 500 and Homecoming aren’t the only weeks that encourage binge drinking. Go out for two-dollar Tuesday, come back for 25-cent beer night on Wednesday, get shirts and a fast pass Thursday, go back out Friday and Saturday, then mimosas at brunch Sunday, and you’re on your way to alcoholism.

So what can IU do to help at-risk students? First, it needs need to change how it educates them. The “listen to videos and take a quiz” format it has right now isn’t a bad idea in theory, but some people just don’t care.

Educate students in a way they’ll remember. Instead of having a quiz, have a seminar where recovering alcoholics come tell their stories and make it real for students. Instead of telling them focusing on impersonal statistics, remind them of the realities of drinking: It’s bad for your health, can cause issues like depression and can cause alcoholism.

Another way to prevent potential alcohol abuse is to promote programs that are alternatives to going out and drinking. I remember going to Late Nite and always having fun, but I only went after a floormate of mine told me about it. If more money was put into promoting Late Nite, more students would know they have a sober, social alternative to going out.

IU does have a program in place to remind students about the reality of drinking, but it doesn’t stress the negative aspects of drinking enough for students, and it doesn’t make the consequences seem real.

Even if large portions of the student body aren’t regularly binge drinking, IU has an obligation to provide better programming and alternatives to partying to ensure that their students remain healthy and don’t develop habits in college that lead to alcoholism during, or after.

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