College students, school administrators, and public health officials don’t always agree on the dominant issues of the day.  But as campuses across the nation prepare for the annual one- or two-week vacations that have been come to be known as Spring Break, there is virtual unanimity on one topic:

The next two months are going to be awash in alcohol.

While students flock to beaches and other traditional gathering points for a range of reasons, it’s no secret that binge drinking among college students is a common occurrence during Spring Break.

For example, CollegeBingeDrinking.net reports that 70 percent of surveyed students report having abused alcohol during their Spring Break, with an average of 15.26 drinks consumed across ten days. Thirty-six percent of participants said they’d experienced at least one negative consequence as a result of drinking, and drinking during Spring Break was associated with negative consequences.

What many parents and other concerned parties may not realize, though, is that the deadly tradition of binge drinking is hardly limited to the week or two weeks that students spend having fun in the sun. The following statistics are from the Center for Science in the Public Interest:

  • 44% of students attending 4-year colleges drink alcohol at the binge level or greater
  • Young adults aged 18-22 enrolled full-time in college were more likely than their peers not enrolled full time to use alcohol in the past month, to binge drink, and to drink heavily.
  • 48% of college drinkers report that ‘drinking to get drunk’ is an important reason for drinking.
  • Almost 1 in 4 drink college students report drinking alcohol 10 or more times a month, and 29% report being intoxicated 3 or more times per month
  • Binge drinkers consumed 91% of all alcohol that college students reported drinking, while 68% of alcohol was consumed by frequent binge drinkers.
  • College students who first became intoxicated before age 19 are more likely to be alcohol dependent and frequent heavy drinkers.
  • These younger drinkers are also 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.

“Binge drinking is a serious public health challenge, leading to injury and in some cases, death, for hundreds of thousands of college students each year,” U.S Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius has noted.

[Spring Break photo by Free Extras.]