Binge Drinking

Binge drinking: an over-indulgence of alcohol in short period of time is a common form of substance abuse for college students.

“Binge drinking is the number one problem on college campuses,” said Dr. Surething, the director and counselor at Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS)  at UMW.

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc.’s (NCADD) website presented that, “Alcohol is the most commonly used and abused drug among youth in the United States- more than tobacco and illicit drugs- and although drinking by persons under the age of 21 is illegal, people aged 12 to 20 drink 11 percent of all alcohol consumed in the United States.”

It is considered binge drinking if “women drink three or more drinks in an hour and men drink four or more drinks per hour,” said Surething.

“Among young adults aged 18 to 25, an estimated 58.1 percent of females and 63.3 percent of males reported current drinking in 2011.” (NCADD)

In a study by the National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Summary of National Findings, the NSDUH compared the binge alcohol use among adults aged 18 to 22 by college enrollment  between the years 2002 and 2011. NSDUH Summary of National Findings

This graph shows binge alcohol use among adults aged 18 to 22 from 2002-2011
-Graph courtesy of AMHSA in a 2011 NSDUH survey

The study (Figure 3.3 to the left) presented that young adults aged 18 to 22 who were enrolled full time in college compared to their peers who were not enrolled full time, binged and heavily drank more than the part-time students.

In 2011, “60.8 percent of the full-time students were current drinkers, 39.1 percent were binge drinkers, and 13.6 percent were heavy drinkers.”

Different factors contribute to an individual’s alcohol consumption such as social settings in addition to the individual’s emotional and physical state.

In a (NSDUH) survey on Current, Binge, and Heavy Alcohol Use among Persons Aged 12 to 20, by Gender: 2011, the results demonstrated that “80.8 percent of current drinkers aged 12 to 20 were with two or more other people the last time they drank alcohol, 14.5 percent were with one other person the last time they drank, and 4.7 were alone.”

Binge drinking is destructive to the body and could potentially put individuals in harmful situations.

As provided by a NCADD Fact Sheet: Facts About Underage Drinking, “approximately 79,000 deaths are annually attributed to excessive alcohol use.” (NCADD facts)

The site indicated, “600,000 college students are unintentionally injured while under the influence, 700,000 students are assaulted by other students who have been drinking, and 100,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.”

-Graph made by Sarah Tagg

Professionals are asserting their concern on student’s long-term health due to binge drinking blackouts.

“Binge drinking is risky for blacking out,” voiced Surething.

In a study conducted by Marlon P. Mundt and Larissa I. Zaketskai at the University of Wisconsin, supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NCADD), concluded that “Universities with at least 40,000 students, total expenses stemming from blackout-related visits to the emergency departments run $469,000 to $546,000 a year.”

“College alcohol abusers susceptible to blackouts put a heavy burden on the medical-care system,” said Mundt and Zaketskai.

Though people react to alcohol differently, there are long-term risks due to binge drinking.

Common side effects listed by the (NCADD) include chronic disease, neurological impairments and social problems.

By Sarah Tagg