YOUTH VOICE: Students need to be wary of binge drinking

With the first month of school behind them, many undergraduate students are getting back into the flow of classes, tests and tutorials.

However, during this time of year, students will also see posters of pub nights and parties posted on bulletin boards and Facebook pages. It is during these types of events that students often fall prey to ‘binge drinking.’

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define binge drinking as “men (who) consume five or more drinks and women (who) consume four or more drinks, in about two hours.”

According to the 2011 Community Health Survey, binge drinking has risen by one per cent in B.C. and by two per cent across Canada, from 2010 to 2011.

Universities such as Acadia University and the University of Alberta have already tried to curtail the phenomenon of binge drinking on their campuses, but one can only wait and see to observe the effects that these prohibition-style implementations will have on student drinking behavior.

In B.C., youngsters are considered “the largest group of binge drinkers,” and the costs of binge drinking exceed $2.2 billion per year, according to

These factors, however, simply compound the individual harms of binge drinking. Binge drinking can not only lead to health problems, such as alcohol poisoning, but also to other risky behaviours.

The problem doesn’t end there. An even scarier aspect of binge drinking is its combination with dieting. Earlier this year, Simon Fraser University researcher Daniella Sieukaran urged students to stop practicing “drunkorexia,” a phenomenon in which teens go on diets so that they can binge drink without gaining weight.

The provincial government is also raising awareness about the dangers of binge drinking through its anti-binge drinking posters on buses and other places throughout the Lower Mainland.

In order to combat binge drinking, governments, educational institutions and parents must all work together. We as a society must discard the false idea that one’s teenage years should be associated with excessive drinking and alcohol.

Christine Jackson, of RTI International, who carried out a recent study about parents allowing kids to sip small amounts of alcohol, said: “It is possible that an early introduction to alcohol, even when it is limited to sips and even when it is meant to discourage child interest in alcohol, could backfire and lead to more drinking later on.”

Becoming aware about the dangers and risks of binge drinking is the first step.

Realizing the importance of moderation and alternatives to alcoholic drinks is equally important.

To learn more about the effects that binge drinking can have on you, visit the Change my Face – Drinking Time Machine, , a web app that allows you to visualize how you would look like, 10 years from now, if you drank excessively.

As you get ready to enjoy Halloween parties and get-togethers, it is important that you monitor your drinking habits and celebrate without putting your health and safety at risk.

Japreet Lehal writes monthly for Peace Arch News on youth issues.

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