By Amy M. Collins, editor
This weekend I was lounging at the community pool where I live when an elderly woman next to me received a call on her cell phone and had a loud, animated conversation with her granddaughter, who seemingly had just started college.
“So, have you been partying? Gone to any bars?” the hip granny asked, resulting in a chuckle from me. I couldn’t imagine my grandmother asking me such questions way back when I started college—she was more apt to ask if I was going to church. Before hanging up, the granny gave what I thought was some very good (and realistic) advice: “Stay safe. If you go out, stay in a pack. And if you decide to drink, watch your intake and keep your drink close to you; don’t leave it on a counter where someone can mess with it.”
Parents might hope their children will abstain from drinking in college, but realistically that may not happen. Going away to school is a time for experimentation. Some teens are about to bask in the freedom of living away from home for the first time. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), about four out of five college students drink alcohol. And about half of college students who drink do so through binge drinking. The NIAAA also provides these sobering statistics:
- 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.
- More than 690,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
- More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
- More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use.
Approximately a third of all visits to EDs for injuries in this country are alcohol related. And a recent study, carried out at the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore, found that some drinks may be more likely to be involved than others (Budweiser, Steel Reserve, Colt 45, Bud Ice, and Bud Light among them—beers surely to be featured at many college parties).
I remember being driven to college for the first time and getting a lecture from my father on partying. At the time I only half listened—I felt young and invincible, and I’m sure I’m not alone in having felt that way. But some of what he said sank in, and I did manage to make it out alive. In retrospect, he was right (of course!). So as school swings back into session, perhaps it’s a good idea to let teens and young adults know that while partying may be a reality, there are consequences to overdoing it. And as the cool granny at my pool so eloquently put it: “Stay safe.”
Click here for some healthy tips for college students from the CDC.