Problems with college binge drinking persist

Binge drinking affects college campuses across the country, which has inspired UNA police to step up their patrols and crack down on excessive drinking.

To some students, five drinks in an hour or even two doesn’t seem like that many, but according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, this behavior is considered binge drinking.

In 2004, the NIAA advisory defined binge drinking as “a pattern of drinking alcohol … that corresponds to consuming five or more drinks (male), or four or more drinks (female), in about two hours.” But for many college students, binge drinking is a weekly occurrence.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, excessive alcohol consumption is the third leading preventable cause of death in the United States, and is the cause of 79,000 deaths in the U.S. each year since 2001.

Binge drinking on college campuses might not seem to be that big of a deal, but excessive drinking among college students is on the rise. Universities all over the U.S. as well as UNA are cracking down on campus alcohol consumption.

“For fraternities to host any party, whether alcoholic or not, they have to hire a police officer to work the party,” said UNA police Chief Bob Pastula.

Bars are using tactics like Women’s Wednesday, Dollar Thursday, and College Night to lure students. Specialized nightly events keep drinking a main focus for some college students.

To many college youths, beer pong, keg stands and dollar shots are a rite of passage-as much a part of the college experience as midterms and all-nighters.

Sheffield has a few of the more popular bars in the area, like the Sandbar and DP’s, where students hang out.

“We don’t see a lot of binge drinking, but we do see a lot of alcohol abuse by the younger people,” said Sheffield police Chief Greg Ray. “It’s the spinoff crimes that are related to excessive drinking, but it’s not seen as an epidemic.”

Some of the consequences related to drinking, according to the, include death, assault, injury, sexual abuse, unsafe sex, drunk driving and more.

“What many people don’t realize is that it’s not illegal to be intoxicated in public,” said Ray. “You can be drunk and sitting on a sidewalk bench as long as you don’t have an open container of alcohol and you’re not endangering yourself or the people around you. It’s when you put yourself or the people around you in danger that it becomes a crime.”

For many college students, alcohol is a gateway to socialization and a way for students to meet new people.

“Some freshmen go out and party as an act of rebellion because their parents aren’t there to stop them,” said UNA student Libby Hjelm. “If students get to where they’re drinking during the week and it’s affecting their schoolwork, then it’s definitely a problem. But if they want to do it on the weekends, then so be it.”