While taking numerous shots may lead to a fun and crazy night for some students, a recent Journal Cortex study suggests a hangover is not the only side effect young people will experience.
The study reported that binge drinking between the ages of 13-24 leads to impaired memory, brain shrinkage and changes in the brain’s white matter.
Even though there are serious repercussions to binge drinking, senior Matt Johnson said many students ignore the consequences simply because they are in college.
“I think college kids just want to have a good time with their friends and take the attitude that we are young and that the negative effects kind of won’t apply to us,” Johnson said. “Nobody thinks the bad things will happen to them.”
Junior Joe McCullough agreed that the college setting encourages students to binge drink.
“Many students believe that binge drinking is something one simply does in college until they get it out of their system, grow up, then enter adulthood,” McCullough said. “It is seen as a way to enjoy themselves one last time before they enter into the world of adults, or the real world.”
However, the study suggests that college is one of the worst times to get into these habits. It states that the brain is still developing at this stage, so it can lead to problematic drinking in the future.
While the college environment is a big reason why many students binge drink, St. Thomas’ health educator Birdie Cunningham notes that there are other factors.
“I think it’s a social thing, maybe for stress. I know some students use alcohol for stress or to help them fall asleep at night,” Cunningham said. “I think there are a variety of different reasons; I don’t think there’s one pinpointed reason as to why students use high risk drinking.”
Cunningham said the university has been getting better at addressing the issue of excessive drinking.
“We do a survey on campus that looks at alcohol and other drugs, and our numbers have been going down throughout the years,” Cunningham said.
Sophomore Chelsea Reinartz agreed that while binge drinking is prevalent around St. Thomas, it’s not as bad as it could be.
“Our students are definitely rambunctious about it, but do they really have a problem with it? I don’t think so,” Reinartz said. “Compared to other cultures, we’re stricter about alcohol, and our students react in appropriate ways.”
Cunningham said the Wellness Center provides options for students to learn more about drinking habits.
“If you choose to drink, do it in a safe and healthy way. I also think environmentally around campus it’s not really encouraged,” Cunningham said. “I think there’s a lot of activities that students can partake in that don’t have alcohol involved.”
Kayla Bengtson can be reached at email@example.com.