When America’s young people go off to college, this is supposed to be the start of their adult lives and their careers. These young people should be getting educations that enable them to be the doctors, teachers, architects, software designers and engineers of our future.
What lies ahead for many of them is more than only classes, textbooks and exams. For many of them, years of alcohol street and prescription drug abuse will waste their talents and energies and impair their ability to get an education. Thousands of them will suffer injury, abuse or assaults related to alcohol or drug abuse. And too many will die.
A comprehensive report from The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse states that half of America’s college students binge drink and abuse prescription and illegal drugs. Just what is binge drinking? It’s the consumption of five drinks in one sitting for a man and four drinks in one sitting for a female. Essentially, it’s drinking to get drunk or at least buzzed. Unfortunately, the culture on most of our college and university campuses not only condones this behavior, it encourages and enables it.
These students are at high risk for developing dependence on or addiction to the substances they are abusing. It’s common for college students to feel like they can handle heavy or frequent drinking in school. But in nearly every case, these young adults are poorly equipped to make judgments about how much is too much or to know when they have crossed the line to dependence. Few of them have any education on the hazards that can show up in a drunken party, for example.
The hazards can be disastrous. Every year, one hundred thousand women are victims of sexual assault or rape, related to alcohol abuse. Nearly three-quarters of a million students are injured in alcohol-related accidents. And 2,000 students die from alcohol poisoning or alcohol-related accidents or violence.
The media runs stories of deaths and injury from alcohol poisoning all too frequently. Like the story of Benjamin Harris at the University of Idaho who consumed as many as 15 shots on the night he turned 21. In July 2010, he was found unconscious at his fraternity and died before he could be gotten to a hospital.
And in August 2010 in Dallas, Texas, two girls who had participated in pledging activities at sororities were found passed out in their dorms. Both had to be treated for alcohol poisoning.
Heavy alcohol consumption has no more place in a college education than it has in any productive life. It’s up to parents to educate their children on substance abuse, particularly alcohol and prescription drugs. Open and honest communication about the problems that can result are essential in helping a young adult develop judgment.
It’s not something that colleges want to advertise that some of their students detour through a drug rehab before they can graduate. Many of them have made their ways to a Narconon drug and alcohol rehabilitation center. When they graduate from this program, seven out of ten go on to live clean and sober lives.