Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses

Overview

Underage drinking and binge drinking are not harmless rites of passage. Rather than serving as some kind of bridge to adulthood, these illicit activities exact a senseless and severe price in blood and brain cells each semester. The proof is in the firsthand student accounts of out-of-control house parties and bar blasts, the testimonies of concerned health care professionals, and the tragic news stories related in this landmark book.

The good news is that the damage, injuries, ...

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Overview

Underage drinking and binge drinking are not harmless rites of passage. Rather than serving as some kind of bridge to adulthood, these illicit activities exact a senseless and severe price in blood and brain cells each semester. The proof is in the firsthand student accounts of out-of-control house parties and bar blasts, the testimonies of concerned health care professionals, and the tragic news stories related in this landmark book.

The good news is that the damage, injuries, and deaths attributed to binge drinking are avoidable. The solutions offered in Dying to Drink will help schools to improve the quality of campus life, parents to ensure the safety of their sons and daughters, and our young people to get the most out of their college years— without the beer goggles.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Drawing on interviews with and questionnaires collected from 50,000 students at 140 four-year colleges as part of the recent Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Studies, Wechsler, director of the study, and science writer Wuethrich offer a sobering overview of underage drinking. Parents who comfort themselves by saying that their children drink, but at least they don't do drugs, may be shocked by the authors' findings, which have appeared in academic journals. Binge drinking consuming five drinks at one sitting for men and four for women is a bigger problem than the one Joe Camel once posed to smoking-prone teens. In 1995, the economic cost of alcohol abuse which includes costs associated with such problems as crime, suicide and alcohol poisonings was $167 billion, $57 billion higher than drug abuse. Just over 70% of all unmarried students between the ages of 18 and 23 binge drink. The authors discuss the effect of drinking on campus crime, including sexual assault, where more than half of the victims and 74% of the perpetrators had been drinking. Wechsler and Wuethrich attribute collegiate alcohol abuse to what they refer to as an "alcohol-related culture," such as 21st birthday celebrations, where people are expected to "drink their age," and sorority and fraternity culture, where 75% of the students are binge drinkers. After delivering such grave news, Wechsler and Wuethrich offer a final chapter on what communities can do from enforcing laws to restricting happy hours to eradicate binge drinking. Their book is a dramatic and very real call for parents, educators and lawmakers to take action. (Aug. 24) Forecast: Conscientious parents, guidance counselors and college administrators will undoubtedly want this. Rodale's plans for nationwide radio interviews and print ads should generate some buzz. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.
Booknews
Binge drinking by college students results in some 1,400 deaths yearly and contributes to a host of other serious problems. Based upon a series of studies recently released by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, this text looks at issues such as underage drinking, alcohol advertising, and the relationship between alcohol consumption and sexual assault. The authors also discuss what students, schools, parents, and communities can do to confront this problem. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579547776
  • Publisher: Rodale Press, Inc.
  • Publication date: 7/16/2003
  • Edition description: REV
  • Pages: 336
  • Product dimensions: 5.68 (w) x 8.74 (h) x 0.88 (d)

Meet the Author

Henry Wechsler, Ph.D., is the director of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Studies program and a lecturer in the school's Department of Health and Social Behavior. He conducted his first national survey of college binge drinking in 1993.

Bernice Wuethrich is a science writer whose work has appeared in Discover, Smithsonian, Science, International Wildlife, and New Scientist magazines.

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Table of Contents

Preface ix
Introduction xiii
Part I The College Drinking Environment
Chapter 1 A Culture of Alcohol 3
Chapter 2 Where's the Party? 33
Chapter 3 College Sports and Alcohol 54
Chapter 4 The Problem of Underage Drinking 71
Part II Big Alcohol
Chapter 5 Selling Alcohol to Students 89
Chapter 6 Advertising to Generation Next 106
Chapter 7 Alcohol "Education 134
Part III The Bottle and the Damage Done
Chapter 8 Alcohol's Effect on Body and Brain 155
Chapter 9 Bad Behavior under the Influence 176
Chapter 10 College Women, Sex, and Alcohol 191
Part IV A Call to Action
Chapter 11 What Students and Schools Can Do 213
Chapter 12 What Parents Can Do 238
Chapter 13 What Communities Can Do 255
Resources 271
Appendix The 2001 Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study 274
Notes 293
Index 311
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Introduction

At the core of this book are the results of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study (CAS), an ongoing survey of more than fifty thousand students at 140 four-year colleges located in forty states. The study, supported through grants from The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, has surveyed students at the same colleges four times: in 1993, 1997, 1999, and 2001. The participating schools were selected to represent public and private, urban and rural institutions of all sizes and academic competitiveness.

Administrators at each participating institution provided a random sample of more than two hundred undergraduates, to whom we mailed a nineteen-page questionnaire (see Appendix). The students answered the yes/no and multiple-choice questions and volunteered hundreds of pages of additional commentary on these topics as well. We then statistically analyzed all the results to compile a national picture of student drinking.

After examining problems associated with different levels of alcohol intake in the first study, we defined the term binge drinking for men as having five or more drinks in a row at least once in the prior two weeks, and for women as having four or more in a row. (We found that it took women only four drinks to reach the same level of problems that men reached at five drinks.) We classify as "occasional binge drinkers" those students who drank in this manner once or twice in the previous two weeks, and we classify as "frequent binge drinkers" those who drank in this way three or more times in two weeks.

Student responses to the CAS have established a strong relationship between binge drinking and the number and severity of problems that students face. For example, frequent binge drinkers are seventeen times more likely to miss a class, ten times more likely to vandalize property, and eight times more likely to get hurt or injured as a result of their drinking than are students who drink but do not binge. Therefore, we use the term binge drinking as a public-health tool, to identify a level of drinking at and above which students are likely to experience and to cause a range of problems.

Students responded anonymously to the CAS questionnaire, and so the names used in this book are not their real ones. (At the same time, the names of some parents and citizens have been changed on their request, to protect their privacy.) But their written commentary is real, and revealing, and exposes key issues in college alcohol use, including the tradition of heavy drinking on college campuses, the role of fraternities and sororities and athletics, the relationship of state alcohol control measures and college policies to this behavior, and the role that easy access to alcohol and low prices play. The CAS responses also provide insight into other high-risk behaviors, including tobacco and illicit drug use, unsafe sex, violence, and other behavioral, social, and health problems. Data on individual institutions, however, come not from the CAS--our data on specific universities is confidential--but from information that is publicly available.

Since the 1994 release of the first report on CAS findings, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, the problem of binge drinking has captured national media attention and the public interest. The results of the study have been reported in more than fifty journal articles and innumerable newspapers and magazines. This book puts the major findings from the Harvard study into proper perspective and presents action plans developed from independent interviews with students, parents, administrators, campus health workers, advocacy organizations, and community leaders. Our one and only goal is to help solve what the U.S. surgeon general called "the most serious public health problem on American college campuses today."

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