A New Look at Binge Drinking on Campus
WebMD News Archive
In September 1997, MIT freshman Scott Krueger, 18, died from consuming large
quantities of beer, whiskey, and rum as part of a fraternity initiation ritual.
A Louisiana State University student died in August of that year during his
fraternity's bid night.
"Over the past few years, there have been some very public deaths among
students due to binge drinking, and this has brought attention to binge
drinking, which has been a problem at colleges and universities for a very long
time," says Mark Goldman, PhD, a distinguished research professor of
psychology at the University of South Florida in Tampa and co-chairman of the
NIAAA panel. "Binge drinking is not new, but deaths may be increasing due
to changes in drinking patterns and/or drinking games on college
"The point of the NIAAA action is to put this issue on a research
track," he says. "We plan to evaluate what we know about binge drinking
and where it happens and then look at prevention and treatment and identify the
things that are most effective and build on them."
Some suggested solutions include banning advertisers from targeting college
students, increasing the cost of alcohol to make it less accessible to
students, enforcing fines for students using fake identification, and
developing peer counseling programs. Beer is already banned on 25% of college
campuses, and 33% do not allow distilled spirits.
"All of us believe that there is no magic potion or defined series of
steps that can transform this issue overnight," says the Rev. Edward
Malloy, president of the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind., and an
NIAAA panel member. "We need to learn from the experiences of other
campuses, share that information, and be open to reconfiguring how we deal with
the issue," he tells WebMD.
"Binge drinking impedes the quality of education and puts people at risk
and too often establishes a lifetime pattern of abuse and addiction,"
A recent study in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research
found that heavy drinking during the teen years may cause damage to thinking
abilities. About half of all college binge drinkers start drinking in high
school, Wechsler says.