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Cinco de Mayo; 'Alcoholidays' for College students & Underage drinking

“for girls, alcohol has the added danger of giving them courage to act out sexually, making them more vulnerable"
“for girls, alcohol has the added danger of giving them courage to act out sexually, making them more vulnerable"
Flickr Photo/allboyshatebras

Cinco de Mayo is a day where it is considered socially acceptable to drink to excess even on a weekday afternoon. As college administrators try to change the drinking culture on campus, the notion of "alcoholidays" presents a formidable opponent. "The best we can do is try to educate and make them aware of the situation," said Steve Clarke, director of Virginia Tech's Alcohol Abuse Prevention Center. In recent years, even Thursday nights have been designated "alcoholidays" by college students. "Students do that, they make things into holidays. It’s Thursday. Let's party, let's celebrate," Clarke said.

It is estimated that each year, more than 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking, and more than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

One line of research is examining how becoming intoxicated at a young age is linked to later drinking problems during the college years. The results showed that college students who first became intoxicated prior to age 19 were significantly more likely to be alcohol dependent and frequent heavy drinkers. These younger drinkers also were more likely to report driving after drinking, riding with a driver who was drinking or drunk, and sustaining injuries after drinking alcohol that required medical attention.

Underage bingers will often secretly "pre-game," pounding back large quantities of alcohol before their school dance or a big game, where alcohol is strictly banned. "You're encouraging each other, 'just do it, just, fast, just, here-and telling each other tips on how to drink it faster, so you don't taste it,'" Holley, a 17 year old senior in high school.

She goes on to say that “for girls, alcohol has the added danger of giving them courage to act out sexually, making them more vulnerable, and then providing an excuse for risky behavior the morning after.”

A new study from Stanford University shows that teen girls are more likely than boys to physically damage their brains from binge drinking because they weigh less and their livers process alcohol differently. Brain scans conducted on intoxicated teenage girls have shown less activity in the areas of memory and spatial awareness.

What’s new in Prevention?

1. Defining Binge Drinking - NIAAA National Advisory Council approved the following definition-

A “binge” is a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 gram-percent or above.For a typical adult, this pattern corresponds to consuming 5 or more drinks (male), or 4 or more drinks (female), in about 2 hours.

2. Minimizing alcohol ads in college sports.

The American Medical Association (AMA) is paying for a series of ads in college newspapers calling on schools to stop accepting alcohol advertising during college sports events. The ads, timed to coincide with the beginning of the NCAA basketball "March Madness" tournament, call on colleges to "stop the madness" of alcohol advertising aimed at youth.

The public tolerance for messages that counteract efforts to reduce alcohol-related harm has begun to diminish. Be a part of the future and survival. Peace

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