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Binge Drinking Persists On Campus

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Although more students say they've been exposed to educational materials designed to curb binge drinking, researchers say other, more powerful forces continue to drive the phenomenon.

"You can have a binge more cheaply than you can go to a movie," says Wechsler. "The supply, the fact that drinking is cheap, and the drinking culture that pervades campuses are all factors that contribute to it."

While headlines about binge drinking may grab the public's attention, some experts say it's time to get past the binge-drinking label so campus officials can foster cooperation and work more effectively with students.

"It's a labeling students resent," says Gail Gleason Milgram, EdD, professor and director of education and training at the Center of Alcohol Studies at Rutgers University. "We have to acknowledge that alcohol has been a part of the adolescent and college experience for a long time and try to create innovative ways to lower the risks associated with that."

Milgram tells WebMD it's misleading to label all of these students with a term that is associated with alcoholism and being in a state of intoxication for days at a time.

Milgram says the average 150-pound person metabolizes about one alcoholic beverage per hour or hour and 15 minutes. Therefore, a person who has four to five drinks over the course of a day or evening may not necessarily become drunk or suffer from a drinking problem.

She says the study does highlight the fact that the haphazard alcohol education and prevention programs currently in place at some colleges clearly aren't having much of an effect. The goal of these efforts shouldn't be to stop drinking entirely, but to give students a choice and a more balanced perspective.

"We need to decide if we're really going to invest the money and the resources to create activities and programs that students are interested in," says Milgram.

For example, if the only activity happening on campus is a party at a fraternity house where alcohol will be served, she says students who want to socialize don't have much of choice. But by coordinating efforts with students, colleges and communities can develop alternatives, such as opening late-night cafes and video stores, midnight sports leagues, or keeping student centers open through the night.-->

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