Your College Days Are No Excuse: How Binge Drinking Is A Threat To Millennial

by Juliet Altmann

Red solo cups, punch bowls, Georgie's $11 vodka and Fireball stolen from parents' liquor cabinets.

College drinking is no new phenomenon. According to research done by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, four out of five college students consume alcohol, regardless of whether or not they are of the legal drinking age.

More and more universities are making attempts to get a handle on the out-of-control binge drinking that occurs both on and off campus.

It is no longer about enforcing rules for the sake of doing so; it's about safety. Each year, 1,825 college students die as a result of alcohol-related incidents.

A shocking 690,000 students are assaulted by perpetrators who are under the influence. Nearly 100,000 students suffer from alcohol-related date rape. As you can see, it is not the alcohol itself that endangers people; rather, it is the behavior its consumption leads to.

Bloomberg news reported that even ivy league universities, such as Harvard and Yale, with their high academic standards, consider the drinking on their campuses to be "out-of-control."

This may surprise some people, as the NIAAA also reports that approximately 25 percent of students suffer academic consequences, such as lower grades and missing classes, due to their heavy drinking habits.

In fact, it could be argued that more academically competitive students have a higher risk for drinking-related problems, as they tend to be under more stress than students who do not particularly care about their grades.

To a student who feels pressured to meet extremely high academic expectations, whether it be pressure from school, family or pressure that he or she induce upon themselves, receiving a low grade can feel like the end of the world.

Drinking, among other vices, is one way to forget about the feelings of guilt and failure for a moment and experience a little bit of freedom from the binding expectations that today's society puts on young adults.

In an attempt to control the drinking problem, universities set strict rules and consequences for students caught violating their policies.

These consequences can include sanctions, probation, fines, mandatory community service or AA-type meetings, suspension, and even expulsion from dorms or the institution itself.

In a desperate attempt to preserve the safety of its students, a university may have no choice but to make students terrified of these consequences.

As safety is the main goal, closely followed by maintaining academic integrity, many schools also have amnesty policies.

These policies indicate that if a student who has been drinking needs medical attention, that student and any other students who aid him or her will not be charged for violating drinking policies.

This encourages students to seek help, even if they are more afraid of getting caught than they are of damage to their own health or that of a friend.

While amnesty policies may protect students from certain consequences, they do not always protect them from the unescapable feelings of guilt and shame.

In some cases of alcohol-related assault, victims have been blamed by their deans or advisors for the incident based on the concept that had they not been drinking, the crime would not have occurred.

Whether or not this is true in any given situation, pulling the "it's your fault" line is the one thing you are never supposed to suggest to an assault victim.

People assume that because college drinking is so prevalent, it's normal. Is it really a normal and inevitable part of the college experience, or is it the sign of a growing problem for the future of Generation-Y?

On a weekend, two college students could easily go through three handles of vodka and maybe drink even more.

If an adult were to do the same, his or her friends and family would immediately consider the possibility of alcoholism. What makes Gen-Y different from other generations?

In terms of alcoholism, age is not the problem, the habit itself is. If an adult spends all of his or her free time boozing until he or she can't think straight, his or her performance at work will most likely be affected.

The same goes for students: Heavy drinking habits are statistically shown to decrease the quality of academic performance.

School is a job just like any other. I'm not saying that we are a generation of future alcoholics; however, I am saying that people should consider the consequences of viewing college drinking as something to be expected and accepted. It might just be that alcoholism in young adults is "the new normal."

Photo via We Heart It