Binge drinking, commonly defined as consuming five or more drinks in a single sitting, is an increasing problem on college campuses. However, there are several steps universities, students and surrounding communities can take to combat this troublesome activity.
- Increase awareness. One of the first thing colleges need to do is to inform students of the dangers of binge drinking. While nearly everyone is aware of the dangers of activities like drunk driving, they are not always familiar with the inherent risks of drinking too many drinks too quickly. Presentations to incoming freshmen dormitories, and students groups can help raise awareness of the detrimental effects of binge drinking. Many schools have also launched successful marketing campaigns warning of the dangers of binge drinking through posters, public service announcements and newspaper advertisements.
Provide alternatives to partying. Too many students turn to drinking because they don't think they have any other ways to have fun. Colleges can make great strides in lessening binge drinking by providing alcohol-free activities for students. Many schools plan dances, performances, movie showings and even arts and crafts projects on Friday and Saturday nights. Making use of student unions and activity centers, they keep students on campus and away from places where drinking will occur. Students who are enjoying a hypnotist or watching the latest Oscar-winner with their friends aren't heading out to the weekend's big frat party.
Provide mentors and role models. Pair incoming students with undergraduates dedicated to responsible drinking. They can help the new students learn of available alcohol-free activities while also providing support for those who want to avoid excessive drinking. It can be easier for students to face pressure to drink when they know they're not alone.
Increase policing, restrictions and fines. Schools and communities can help decrease drinking by decreasing the number of gatherings where it occurs. Stricter laws and regulations concerning house parties and noise violations can make hosting parties less desirable. Better patrolling of dorms can help stop gatherings in student rooms where alcohol is being consumed. Officials can also increase the penalties for drinking-related offenses like a minor in possession, hopefully making students think twice before they take their next drink.
Be a voice of reason. College students can help stop binge drinking by committing themselves to stopping excessive drinking. Plan a movie night instead of a trip to the bar. Let your friends know when they've had too much to drink. Don't buy someone several shots on his 21st birthday. Don't get a keg for your party. Be a trendsetter in knowing when to stop.
Too many students see drinking as a rite of passage; they think they have to "get wasted" to have a good time. In the long run, the best way to stop binge drinking is to change the overall culture that leads to this activity. By taking the previously mentioned steps, the involved parties can slowly but surely work toward this cultural change.