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Underage drinking and binge drinking are not ...
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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.
Only with our beer goggles off can a concerted effort involving schools, parents, community leaders, and concerned students successfully confront the real losses caused by binge drinking on our college campuses. It's time to clear the alcohol haze.
College binge drinking is more of an issue than ever. In recent years the alcohol industry has stepped up its efforts to convince students, school administrators, and health officials that the problem isn't really so bad. Yet the fact is that at least two out of every five U.S. college students regularly binge drink, resulting each year in approximately fourteen hundred student deaths, a distressing number of assaults and rapes, a shameful amount of vandalism, and countless cases of academic suicide.
In Dying to Drink, Harvard researcher Henry Wechsler, Ph.D., and science writer Bernice Wuethrich take stock of the problem. Citing surprising statistics from his series of College Alcohol Studies (CAS), the most recent of which was conducted in 2001, Dr. Wechsler warns that drinking on campus is taking a bigger toll than most of us realize. And it's not just the students themselves who pay: One estimate puts the cost of underage drinking at around $53 billion a year, including $18 billion associated with traffic crashes that threaten the general public -- about 57 percent of frequent binge drinkers and 40 percent of occasional binge drinkers admit getting behind the wheel after drinking. Is this a price we're willing to pay for a teenager's drunken "fun"?
Perhaps more chilling even than the cold facts and figures are the personal confessions gathered from Dr. Wechsler's survey and Wuethrich's independent interviews. A frat brother who regularly drinks until he blacks out recounts how, if not why, he does it; a non-binge drinker tells about the secondhand effects of alcohol that he's suffered at the hands of inebriated roommates; and on- and off-campus partygoers describe the sometimes dangerous conditions encountered in college environments where heavy drinking is encouraged, especially at fraternity houses, sporting events, and university bars.
But Dying to Drink doesn't just aim to scare--the authors care about solving the problem. Along with a Resources section that points readers to the best organizations to team up with, the final fourth of the book lists specific ways that we all can take action against the binge drinking menace that hobbles higher education in this country.
About 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 1994 and has updated the study every two years since then. Dr. Wechsler is the author of seventeen books and monographs and more than 150 articles in professional journals on alcohol abuse and other high-risk behaviors. He has received awards from the American College Health Association and the American Public Health Association for his research.
Bernice Wuethrich is a science writer whose work has appeared in Discover, Smithsonian, Science, International Wildlife, and New Scientist magazines, and in exhibitions at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
|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|
|Appendix||The 2001 Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study||274|
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."
Posted June 4, 2003
This was a really interesting book. Having already experienced three years of college and experienced the 'alcohol haze' during many a weekends. I can relate to what the author is saying. The college I was attending was a 'high-binge' school as he calls it. The majority of students binge drank thursday through saturday night. Forgetting what you did the night before and hooking up with random people was very common throughout my college life. Just recently I've decided to change my approach to college. I'm trying to steer myself away from the 'alcohol-driven' social life of college and focus on other ways of socializing. So far, through three years I've been able to keep over a 3.6 GPA and be a member of numerous honor societies, while binge drinking on a regular basis during the w/ends. However, I do feel the after effects of binge drinking. My memory is not as clear and I forget a lot of things on a regular basis. I feel that this book accurately describes the social scene at many colleges. The author's argument tends to be repetitive, however I feel his argument is sound. He also provides well supported data on the negative effectsof alcohol and ways to combat binge drinking on campuses nation-wide. Personally, I'm transferring from my high binge school to a more academically focused school, in hopes that my approach towards socializing changes somewhat. Good book that provides truth about the college culture of binging. Good book for those who have loved ones in college; lets you know what some are really doing with your tuition money.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.