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Substance Abuse and Addiction Health Center

Cheap Booze Blamed for College Drinking

Kegs, Party Balls Entice Underage Students to Drink
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Cracking Down on Underage Drinking

The take-home message: Campus administrators and authorities in college towns who hope to crack down on the high rates of underage drinking should take measures to control how alcohol is marketed to students.

"Colleges are strong and influential members of their communities, and even if this alcohol is being sold off-campus, their voice can and should be heard," says Wechsler. "We cannot simply focus on the students in our efforts to limit heavy drinking and the problems it poses for the college and the community. It has taken a number of different factors for colleges to reach the levels of drinking that are taking place, and the supply of alcohol is one of these factors."

He advocates for the formation of a national campaign to stop underage drinking, working with the alcohol industry, and also recommends that college administrators and residents of college towns put more pressure on governmental authorities to curb the availability of cheap and bountiful alcohol.

In an accompanying study, Wechsler reports that states with more restrictive laws related to underage drinking have lower rates of students who drive after binge drinking.

Roughly half of the alcohol consumed on campus is by underage drinkers. Wechsler says that nearly one in three college students has driven after drinking, and 11% admit to driving after having at least five drinks. Alcohol plays a role in nearly half of all car crashes involving teenagers, reports the American Medical Association.

"This study provides a blueprint for a comprehensive, national plan to combat underage drinking, which is turning into an epidemic among our nation's youth," says the AMA's J. Edward Hill, MD, in a prepared statement.

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