By Chris Barts
The college years are supposed to be the happiest of ones life. During these years, one can choose a mate, life friends and a career. The decisions made during this time last a lifetime. The decisions made during this time can also shorten a lifetime.
Binge and chronic drinking are common decisions that fall squarely in the former category, and all too often spill over into the latter category.
Binge drinking is commonly defined as drinking in excess of normal or safe amounts, usually on a bet or as part of a social function.
Chronic drinking is drinking in excess on a regular basis.
Both kinds of drinking have numerous medical effects, including anemia, cirrhosis of the liver, abnormal heartbeat, confusion, impaired memory, deterioration of motor nerves, and psychosis. After consuming enough alcohol to gain a blood alcohol level of 0.2 (200 milligrams of alcohol per deciliter of blood), the person exhibits confusion, reduced memory, and severe impairment. A blood alcohol level of 0.3 causes a loss of consciousness, and a coma is the outcome of a blood alcohol level of 0.4. So little of this toxin is needed to kill someone or at least ruin someone for life.
And ruining for life is exactly this drugs effect on ones social life. Drinkers cannot function in any kind of society, hold down jobs, keep meaningful relationships, or even maintain their own mind and bodies. They are a burden on their families, who have to either support someone who is most likely not able to make an effort at self-support, or allow that person to slip into moral and physical degeneration, a very hard thing for any right-minded parent to do. A binge or chronic drinker is more likely to commit crimes and draw welfare or disability checks, thereby becoming a burden on the larger society, which is forced to care for millions of people like this. This care is expensive and detrimental to society as it cuts into funds that should be used by the people themselves to better their own lives. This problem is far-reaching and destructive, but all problems have solutions.
The solution to this problem, like so many others, is education. Education tends to reduce the incidence of binge or chronic drinking and also makes the person a more productive member of society. But the earlier the better, and it is all too possible to be too late.
In a study recently conducted by Harvards School of Public Health, 43 percent of all college students were classified as binge drinkers. That percentage, while it falls short of majority, turns into three million students when converted into an actual count. Clearly, education starting in the teen-age years is education falling upon deaf ears. Education must begin in the elementary school years to be effective. The DARE program helps, but home is the essential place at this early age.
In short, education is the key here as in so many other things. Education from the DARE program at school, from parents at home, and from older kids at the playground. In turn, all of these people must be educated about the problems as well. However, once this program of education truly takes hold, drinking cannot help but be reduced, as with its legion of problems.