Binge drinking problem not exclusive to campuses

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, April 6, 1999

When the term binge drinking is mentioned, there tends to be an automatic association with college students.

Tuesday, April 6, 1999

When the term binge drinking is mentioned, there tends to be an automatic association with college students. But binge drinking is not exclusively a college campus’ problem, nor does the behavior necessarily start or end there.

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The Harvard School of Public Health defines binge drinking as having five or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting; four for women. Sounds like an average cocktail party, doesn’t it?

The problem is that drinking isn’t just part of college life. Most of those kids know that bars fill up on the weekends with just as many non-college aged adults. The see both white and blue collar adults sucking it down, slurring their jokes and laughing a little too loud. If that’s the future in store for the college kids, why not start in college? Get a head start, build up an impressive tolerance.

Such thinking has left college campuses busy devising new and improved &uot;proactive&uot; solutions to the problem.

But a poorly acted skit at freshman orientation does not necessarily consist of a decisive solution for the drinking problems that plague campuses all over the country.

A college dean cannot simply put a social band-aid on the problem and expect one of the country’s biggest social ills to heal. Their efforts to stop binge drinking show less than impressive results.

Harvard School of Public Health found the number of college kids who binge drink had dropped from 44 to 43 percent. Evidence that binge drinking still remains a problem on college campuses.

The past couple of years has seen several headlines mourning the deaths of frat boys who drink too much at hazing rituals and parties. Further evidence that the problem is slow to remedy itself.

Since the colleges are failing, it’s up to the parents.

Ellen Saul, a counselor at Lutheran Brotherhood Services, said studies point to the fact, if given clear guidelines by their parents, children will follow them. And parents should be willing to live by the same standards they expect of their children.

Some parents may prefer to never drink in front of their children. It’s an acceptable option if the parent doesn’t drink in general, and wants to instill the same values in their children.

But if a parent does enjoy a glass of wine at dinner or a can of beer while watching the game, keeping it from the kids may not be the best thing for them. Where do children learn about drinking in moderation if they don’t see the example set by their parents?

Isn’t it better to show children that drinking in moderation is acceptable, rather than sneaking a drink here and there?

And don’t expect them to learn about moderation from their favorite athlete and product endorser. Seeing a jock downing a couple of beers with the beautiful people while the announcer pleads for moderation in the background is not a very persuasive message.

Such behavior also indicates that binge drinking is not just a problem on college campuses. Rather it reaches far into adulthood too. But Harvard School of Public Health hasn’t figured out how many adults are guilty of the same behavior they pin on college students.