“…it has become clear, that during adolescence…the brain is highly plastic and shaped by experience…Alcohol appears to interfere with the changes in circuitry that occur during learning.” –Dr. Aaron White, Duke University. Keep up to date with local and nationwide coverage of the underage drinking epidemic.
At the ripe old age of 21, I can think back to the oh-so-far away times of underage drinking and two very distinct memories come to mind..
The first is of my token perpetually sober friend Eric bawling into the phone. He had been moved into his dorm room for a grand total of eight hours and was slurring something to the effect of, “Oh God, It’s not even 9 p.m. and I’ve already puked everywhere.”
The second is of an email I received from the president of the University of Delaware, the school where I spent part of my freshman year, informing the student body community that freshman Brett Griffin was dead from alcohol poisoning. According to the police report, he had gone into cardiac arrest and didn’t even make it to the hospital. He had barely been in school for one month.
The point is that drinking irresponsibly will sometimes lead to embarrassing stories that your friends will love to repeatedly tell (or write in The Statesman) at your expense and other times will cause consequences you never even considered.
According to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, more than 5,000 people died from underage drinking in 2010 and 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 were unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol in 2009.
In addition to death and injury, there were a reported 97,000 sexual assault incidents involving college students and alcohol in 2009 and out of 400,000 students who admitted to having unprotected sex while intoxicated, 25 percent said that they were too drunk to know whether or not they consented.
If death, injury and sexual assault aren’t sobering enough realities of irresponsible partying, collegedrinkingprevention.gov reported that approximately 25 percent of college students have admitted to academic consequences due to their drinking.
Trust me; nothing is more terrifying than mom and dad realizing that your Blood Alcohol Content averaged out to be higher than your GPA for the semester.
With 82 percent of college freshmen admitting to underage drinking, it’s true that it can feel like everybody is doing it and responsible drinking can seem nonexistent when the family minivan pulls away from the dormitory and your roommate is already popping the top off of a Four Loko. But another reality is that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported more than 190,000 emergency room visits by individuals under the age of 21 due to injury or other conditions linked to alcohol in 2008.
These statistics aren’t meant to scare you out of experiencing college, they’re meant to remind you to take care of yourself.
So, as a gift to the freshmen class, from a senior who knows the price of a hangover all too well, here are the top five ways to avoid the infamous party fail without locking yourself in your dorm room on a Saturday night.
– DO have a designated friend
Being drunk is the key ingredient in making unwise decisions. In the world of technology and social media, the last thing you need is for your mistakes to be plastered on the Internet. Have a go-to person that will look out for you as you will for them. As a friend, they can help you to avoid the party fail by reminding you how much you’ve already had to drink and that a sober-you wouldn’t actually agree with some of the things that you’re doing.
–DO pace yourself and drink water
According to Stony Brook’s Center for Prevention and Outreach, or CPO, binge drinking is referred to as more than five drinks in a night with two or more drinks being consumed every hour. This is the most dangerous kind of drinking an individual and can participate in.
It’s important to remember that alcohol is slowly absorbed into the body so even after you’ve stopped drinking, the effects of the alcohol will continue to take a toll on your body. That buzz could turn into a disaster if you’re not careful, especially when shooting liquor.
Drinking water will not only help you to pace yourself for a long, fun ( and safer) night so you’re still functional for that 9:30a.m. recitation.
Remember, the key is moderation!
–DON’T rage on campus.
Have you ever seen an RHD pissed off at 5 a.m.? I have and it’s not pretty. While Stony Brook isn’t a dry campus, some the dormitories are (even of-age students can’t have alcohol) and the school’s policy is consistent with that of New York State Law. Being an underage student caught in possession, consuming or even just in a dorm room with alcohol could end up in a write-up. If you get enough write-ups, you might as well just kiss your on-campus housing goodbye. Having a couple of friends over to hang out and play a game of Kings is a lot different than shoving 35 people in your suite. If you’re going to break the rules – and I’m not telling you to – be respectful. Otherwise the RA will be knocking on your door faster than you can say, “Chug.”
–DO know your ride home
I once found a friend passed out and partially submerged in a pile of garbage all because he drank too much and couldn’t drive himself home. Nobody wants to be that friend, but if it comes between a pile of garbage or driving drunk – take the garbage. New York State Law dictates a zero tolerance policy regarding underage drinking and driving. Even if your BAC is .01, it could mean big trouble for you and others.
More importantly, according to Mothers Against Drunk Driving, or MADD, more than 1400 college students in the United States were killed last year in car accidents where alcohol was a factor. Always have a designated driver and if that person fails in the department of sobriety, don’t get in the car – you might not be the one responsible if the you get pulled over but you’re not immune in the event on an accident.
Many students use cab services to take them back to campus. While fares may vary, the price typically doesn’t exceed $5 a person.
–DO know what you’re drinking.
Not all alcohol is created equally, seriously. It’s easy to forget that 12 ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, and 1 and a half ounces of liquor can all do the same thing to your body. It’s even easier to forget that you have absolutely no idea what’s in the jungle juice at a party.
As the old adage goes, dance with the girl you came with – pick one kind of drink and stick with it. Mixing different kinds of alcohol will only get you sick and you’ll have a harder time keeping track of just how much you’ve consumed – this is probably why you should just avoid the jungle juice at all costs.