A few years back a study was conducted by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) examining the relationship between spring break vacation and changes in alcohol consumption. Okay, I’m going to stop right there—first of all, why are experts in biotechnology concerned with how much Amber had to drink at Lake Havasu last year—and also, how are the finding going to reveal anything but “college students drink more when they’re with friends in destinations known for excessive partying.”
So, it comes as no surprise that the NCBI found:
“Students who vacationed with friends during spring break dramatically increased their alcohol use. In contrast, students who stayed home or vacationed with parents during spring break were at low risk for excessive alcohol use.”
All joking aside, the lighthearted introduction was meant to serve a purpose—underage and binge drinking are viewed as rights of passage in society, somewhat of a joke we’re all in on, rather than posing any serious threats to our children’s health. But that’s just not the case. Don’t bury your head in the sand and learn some of the real dangers of binge drinking and how to talk to your kids about forming healthy habits surrounding alcohol consumption.
I know—what a buzzkill, right?
Well, let’s jump into it.
Binge Drinking Explained
According to a recent study from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), nearly half of all college students routinely binge drink—and during spring break it seems to be pushed to the limit. Males reportedly averaged 18 drinks a day while females put back 10 drinks during a typical day at Daytona Beach. The NIAA defines binge drinking for men as more than four drinks, three for women, within just under two hours. The discrepancy between sexes is because alcohol doesn’t break down as quickly in women as it does men and women are generally smaller than men, so it takes less alcohol to produce an elevated blood alcohol level.
FYI— One drink is considered:
- 12 ounces of regular beer (about 5 percent alcohol)
- 8 to 9 ounces of malt liquor (about 7 percent alcohol)
- 5 ounces of wine (about 12 percent alcohol)
- 1.5 ounces of 80-proof hard liquor (about 40 percent alcohol)
It’s also important to note that mixed drinks may contain more than one serving of alcohol and take even longer to metabolize.
Nearly 2,000 US college students die each year from alcohol-related, unintentional injuries. A large portion of those deaths are attributed to alcohol poisoning—but what is it exactly?
Alcohol depresses nerves that control involuntary actions in your body, such as your gag reflex, breathing, heart rate, and body temperature. Drink too much too quickly and these vital functions fail and can potentially lead to coma and death. If that wasn’t enough to worry about, drinking in excess can cause vomiting and poses a threat of choking on vomit, which could cause death by asphyxiation in a binge drinker who has passed out.
Symptoms of Alcohol Poisoning
If you suspect that someone has alcohol poisoning seek immediate medical care. Not all symptoms need to be present before you seek help.
- Slow/irregular breathing (less than eight breaths a minute or a gap of more than 10 seconds between breaths)
- Pale or blue-tinged skin
- Low body temperature
- Unconsciousness and cannot be awakened
If you suspect alcohol poisoning…
- Call 911
- Be prepared to provide medical information and details concerning the quantities of alcohol consumed
- Never leave the unconscious person alone
- Don’t try and make the person vomit
- Help a person who is vomiting by sitting him or her up. If the person must lie down ensure their head is turned to the side to prevent choking.
A few tips to staying safe on spring break
- Stay hydrated—and don’t be cute and tell me there’s water in beer and ice in your gin and tonic
- Know your limits and don’t test yourself
- Call 911 or go to an emergency room if you suspect alcohol poisoning
- Never leave your drink unattended and don’t accept drinks from strangers
- The obvious ones: never drink before 21 and don’t drink and drive