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    Binge Drinking: A Rite of Passage That's All Wrong

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    Goldman, who's also the chairman of the college drinking subcommittee for the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, says the heaviest drinking usually occurs during the first two years of college. "It's a lot like getting into a car for the first time and driving on an interstate, but despite how much they drink, it's all illegal and most kids just do it to keep pace with an old myth," he suggests.

    Many colleges now offer behavioral intervention programs, which have been shown to decrease drinking significantly.

    Penn State offers one such program at its main campus in University Park, Pa. "The idea is to give students a tool to monitor and modify their behavior," says Nathan Thomas, MA, supervisor of the alcohol intervention program. "First we train peer counselors to educate students about the risks and consequences of binge drinking, then we help them develop an action plan to reduce their intake." Thomas tells WebMD that misperceptions about alcohol are rampant.

    To help educate teens, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism distributes the following information to college campuses nationwide:

    • Alcohol lowers inhibitions, but also reduces sexual performance.
    • Drinking impairs judgement, increasing the likelihood of unprotected sex.
    • It takes three hours to eliminate two alcoholic drinks, even with coffee or a cold shower.
    • Twelve ounces of beer, 5 ounces of wine, or 1 ounce of liquor have the same amount of alcohol.
    • Women process alcohol differently, so they shouldn't try to keep pace with men.
    • One-half of all fatal car crashes among 18- to 24-year-olds involve alcohol.
    • One-third of all seriously injured 18- to 24-year-olds are intoxicated.
    • Postponing drinking lowers your lifetime chance of alcohol-related problems.

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