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While the first few weeks of the school year can be some of the most exciting for college students, they are also some of the most deadly when it comes to alcohol and binge drinking.

College and Drinking Culture

Defined as 4 drinks for women and 5 for men in a two hour period, binge drinking is a particularly high risk factor for US college students. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA):

  • Four out of five college students report drinking, even though drinking is illegal until the age of 21
  • Almost 40% report binge drinking in the past 30 days
  • College students have a higher binge-drinking rate and a higher incidence of drunk driving than their non-college peers

Tragic Consequences

Too often, binge drinking and alcohol misuse among college students bring tragic consequences. Each year 1,825 college students die from alcohol-related injuries, and an additional 599,000 students receive non-fatal injuries while drinking. The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) also reports that 95% of all violent crimes on college campuses involve the use of alcohol by the assailant, victim or both.

First-year students are particularly at risk during the first six weeks of the school year, sometimes called the “red zone.” Many freshmen are living away from home for the first time, and the combination of more freedom, new stressors, and unfamiliar situations can lead students to make unhealthy decisions about alcohol. First-year students are especially susceptible to alcohol-related consequences during this period, including death or injury, assault, and sexual abuse.

Stay in Touch

Even from a distance, parents can take steps to prevent alcohol issues with their students. Most importantly, parents should stay in touch. Regular phone calls, emails, or texts can remind students they have a support system to go to with problems and can alert parents to issues early on. Parents should also continue conversations about alcohol misuse and binge drinking during the college years.

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Alison Betts

Alison Betts

Alison Betts has over 15 years of experience as a communications professional and researcher in corporate, nonprofit, and high education settings. Betts joined AMS in 2013 and is currently a Senior Manager of Marketing & Public Relations. Prior to coming to AMS, she held research and teaching positions at universities in Arizona and Colorado. Betts has also served as a public relations professional and grant writer in the nonprofit sector, where she saw first-hand the devastating impact of alcohol and substance abuse on families and communities. Betts holds an MA in English from the University of Colorado and a Master’s in Applied Communications from the University of Denver.