Tackling Underage Binge Drinking in College [AUDIO]
From Animal House to Old School, college and alcohol cultures have been intrinsically linked, however, when it comes to underage and binge drinking, advocates are trying to disassociate the two entities for the safety of many young adults.
Steven Liga, President and CEO of the Middlesex County chapter of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, says because of the cultural association of college and drinking, incoming freshmen often come in with the assumption that drinking heavily is expected of them. But, he points out as students age, they actually find out that's not the case.
"Sophomores actually drink less than freshmen, juniors drink less than sophomores, and by the time someone is a senior, they drink least of all."
Liga points out every weekend hospitals that are next to colleges or universities are packed with young adults who drink too much and every year 5,000 underage drinkers die from alcohol-related causes.
Many colleges and universities are trying to end the notion that binge drinking is a part of life. Schools have set up dry dorms, made counseling available year round, and created campaigns targeting students to let the know binge drinking is not the norm.
"[The message they're sending is] not everybody drinks," says Liga, "and when people do drink, not everybody gets completely wasted. That's actually the thing that immature freshmen do."
He notes parents can play a critical role in preventing their underage children from binge drinking. He points out it's important to be honest and factual with them, and understand that alcohol will be part of social life in college, so it's unrealistic to expect them not to drink at all.
Liga says it's crucial all parents and young adults know if they ever need medical help from drinking too much, they should call for an ambulance without fear of punishment.
"In New Jersey, we have a law to prevent people in a medical emergency from getting arrested for underage drinking. "
He adds that this year the law was expanded to include anyone under the influence of drugs as well.