Abuse: a sobering reality

Most students can probably equate one of the following with college: adulthood, independence and/or lots and lots of alcohol.

Add them all together, and you’ve got a disaster waiting to happen.

Actually, thousands upon thousands of disasters have already happened, and that’s exactly why Sonoma State has joined the rest of the nation in recognizing Alcohol Awareness Week.

One could even say Sonoma State is especially surrounded by liquid temptation. Many of us are approaching the legal drinking age, and we’re conveniently located near some of the most popular craft breweries in Northern California. Even our university is named after one of the most prominent wine growing regions in the world, complete with residential villages named after common wine varietals for our youngest students.

Granted, the stereotype that drinking is a part of every college student’s life isn’t universally true – we all have our own personal perspectives on alcohol use. On one hand, some students have been drinking since high school; on the other, some have grown up with alcoholics their entire lives, making it hard to even contemplate drinking for the sake of getting drunk.

Regardless, the increasing prevalence of alcohol – whether you’re drinking it or not – means that alcohol education is fundamental now more than ever. 

It’s pointless and ignorant to brush underage drinking under the rug; realistic education is an effective tool for battling uninformed, reckless and destructive behavior that can result in irreversible tragedies.

The Center of Disease Control and Prevention defines heavy drinking as consuming an average of more than two drinks a day for men, and more than one drink a day for women. Binge drinking is defined by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism as a pattern of alcohol consumption that brings the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to a level of .08 percent or more.

Let’s be real – this pretty accurately describes many students’ patterns on a typical weekend night at any given college. Which is why it’s no surprise that the Center of Disease Control and Prevention also reports that about 90 percent of the alcohol consumed by people under the age of 21 is in the form of binge drinks. 

And while a general  increase in violence, assault and deaths due to alcohol are equally unsurprising, the actual statistics may be a little more sobering. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism estimates that each year, 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking, 97,000 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape, and 3.36 million drive under the influence of alcohol.

If you’re being safe, moderate and responsible when it comes to drinking, let the good times roll. But know your limits, keep your eye on your drink at all times and don’t assume that your passed out friend is going to be OK. Recognizing the short-term, long-term and fatal effects of alcohol abuse is pertinent to our development as adults.

You’re in college for a reason; don’t let it be for the wrong one.