Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Please Read This

Today's Commercial Appeal ran an abbreviated story from the Associated Press on new rather sobering statistics regarding college drinking. The full version of the article can be found on the website of the Associated Press. The story makes reference to drinking games such as "beer pong," which is but one of many forms of alcohol related entertainment wildly popular on college campuses today. If you are not familiar with drinking games - and you have an adolescent child - please take a moment to educate yourself by reading this rather extensive Wikipedia article dedicated to the subject. If you're wondering just how prevalent these games are, do a Google Search for"drinking games" and browse through any of the 1,500,000 results.

One fact which was not emphasized in this article is that most students who develop drinking problems in college acquired their taste for alcohol in high school. This recent study published in Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy 2008, 3:6, sought to determine the relationship between parental supervision and college drinking. What it found, though, was that while parental supervision can be an important preventative factor in college age drinking, the most significant factor in determining whether a student will become a heavy drinker in college is whether or not they were drinking in high school. Here is an excerpt from their conclusions:

Research shows that college students who report that their parents have permissive attitudes about underage drinking and substance use are more likely to engage in these behaviors [57]. This is contrary to the belief that college binge drinkers are the ones who were prohibited drink in high school. In a blog on the Wall Street Journal website that was focused on an article about college parental notification guidelines of alcohol and drug use, comments such as this were posted,

"The only reason for college binge drinking is prohibition. Kids that binge drink in college are the same ones that were raised by 'responsible' parents who did not let their kids try a drop of alchohol (sic) at home.

Once kids get to college and away from parents' relatively frequent control they go on a rampage. Binge drinking can easily be resolved in late teenagehood by educating kids how to drink, what it means to drink a lot, and what hangover is [58]."

However, our study has shown that binge drinking in high school predicts college binge drinking. In addition, the CASA survey found that 70% of college students reported that their parents' concerns or expectations either somewhat or very much influenced whether or how much they drank, smoked, or used other drugs, and that parental attitudes were significantly related to the likelihood to binge drink, use marijuana, and smoke tobacco.

Did you know that if your high school age child drinks even somewhat regularly, there is a 1 in 4 chance that he or she will develop an alcohol dependency? If he or she is is under 15, the chances rise to almost 1 in 2. But, if they start to drink only after the age of 21, their chances fall to a mere 1 in 10. Here are a few more research based facts about underage drinking from a website called in the know zone:

  • A national survey reveals that 42% of college students reported binge drinking.
  • Over 60% of all injuries, vandalism, and problems with the police reported on college campuses are in frequent (weekly) binge drinkers.
  • By the time they graduate from high school, two-thirds of youth are regular drinkers, and two-fifths are frequent binge drinkers.
  • Binge drinking during high school, especially among males, is a strong predictor of binge drinking during college (among those who make it to college.)
  • Eight young people a day die in alcohol-related crashes.
  • Alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined. It is a factor in the three leading causes of death among 15-24 year olds: accidents, homicides, and suicides.
  • Youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illicit drugs and 50 times more likely to use cocaine than young people who never drink.
  • One in eight college students reports injuries resulting from alcohol use.
  • Half of all binge drinkers miss at least one class per quarter or semester due to drinking.
  • More than one-third of binge drinkers report falling behind in their schoolwork due to drinking.
  • Alcohol is a factor in 40% of all academic problems.
  • Students with GPAs of D or F drink three times as much as those who earn A's.

Thankfully, underage drinking is not a widespread problem in our community. However, it does exist in certain circles and often with parental consent. The information above should be enough to motivate us all to rethink such policies and to work hard at eliminating underage drinking completely.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

There is a group formed by a former College President to fight this problem. It is an interesting approach that deserves some discussion. The organization is called Choose Responsibility.