Girls who binge drink in college may be opening themselves up to an array of potential hazards. Because of this, part of preparing your daughter for college should be frank discussions about the risks associated with binge drinking.
The image of drinking, parties, fraternities and sororities are all intertwined with the image of college life and parties on campus. Students, girls in particular, who are heading to college campuses for the first time may believe that nothing bad will happen to them. Without some precautions, safety tips and strong willpower, however, it can happen to anyone.
Statistics Are Staggering
The statistics related to drunk college girls and students are alarming at best. According to the United States government's College Drinking Prevention website:
- 97,000 college students are victimized by alcohol-related sexual assaults every year.
- 100,000 college students are reportedly too intoxicated to remember consenting or dissenting for sexual intercourse.
- 25% of college students will suffer consequences, either legal or academic, directly related to their alcohol consumption.
Along with risk of sexual assault and legal consequences, drinking may significantly impact health, as well. Health risks include:
- Binge drinking can lead to mood changes, depression, and anxiety up to and including suicide attempts.
- Drinking can lead to dependence and alcoholism. According to College Drinking Prevention, about six percent of college students meet the criteria for dependence, while 34 percent meet the criteria for abuse.
- Processing alcohol is difficult on the liver and can lead to scarring and cirrhosis.
- Alcohol causes sleep disturbances and can harm attention span.
- In extreme cases, alcohol can lead to poisoning which may result in coma or death.
- Alcohol can interfere with function of most major organs, including the heart, lungs, stomach, and kidneys.
- Some people drunk on alcohol have vomited while they were asleep and aspirated it into their lungs. This can lead to lung infection, pneumonia, and even asphyxiation.
- Alcohol has seven calories per gram, and is often mixed with high-calorie mixers, as well. Because of this, it is fattening and can lead to weight gain.
Safety is the first concern for any student going to college whether they live at home with their parents, in on campus housing or an off-campus apartment. Federal law prohibits the sale or consumption of alcohol by minors under the age of 21, although college students range in age from 18 to 22 and in some cases, much older. Girls attending college and seeking to avoid the "drunk college girls" image are advised:
- Do not drink.
- Do not attend parties where drinking is mandatory.
- Always travel with a friend or two. Make plans to stick together.
- Do not drink anything you have not seen poured yourself. Avoid drinking from anyone else's cup.
- If alcohol consumption is planned, make arrangements for a ride or safety escort to pick you up from the party at a designated time.
- Appoint a sober monitor, one or more friends who will not consume alcoholic beverages, but will look out for you.
- Avoid situations of social pressure, particularly sorority or fraternity pledging that requires unsafe or illegal behavior.
- Pre-program your cell phone with designated HELP numbers that you can easily find while inebriated as well as an I.C.E. (in case of emergency) number that emergency personnel can find easily to contact.
Social pressure is enormous on young women to comply with body image, social standing and expectation. Social pressure from peers to drink is a powerful inducement to overcome safer behavior models, but it's important to recognize that a person who wants another person to drink to 'prove' themselves is neither a friend nor someone who's opinion should matter. Bullying behavior comes in many different shapes and sizes. College students, particularly girls, need to recognize that bullies seek to denigrate and degrade. They force themselves on others with their obnoxious behavior and demands. Two reasonable questions to ask are "Do I want to do this?" and "Do I have to do this?" If the answer to the first question is "no" and the second question is "yes," then that is your cue to leave whether you came with your significant other or not.
As difficult as it can be to stand up to others when the social situation is populated by other drunk college girls and guys, it's equally important to be able to look yourself in the eye. If you do not want to do something, you have the power to say "no" and to walk away. Removing yourself from that situation is the smartest choice.
Follow the safety advice above and never attend a party alone and always appoint a sober monitor. Make a plan for someone to pick you up, and don't take a drink of anything you have not seen prepared. Unfortunately, there are people in the world that will take advantage of anyone having a good time.
Think for Yourself
While college provides tremendous social opportunities, one of the main reasons you are there is to get an education. Drinking can severely interfere with that education by causing physical and mental problems. Likewise, because binge drinking clouds judgment, you may be more likely to make a decision under the influence of alcohol that affects the rest of your life. While occasional, moderate drinking is most likely safe, watch for clues that alcohol is becoming a problem, and seek help if you need it. It may save your college career.