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Indiana Prevention Resource Center (IPRC)

Back To School Doesn’t Have to Mean ‘Back to Drinking.’

Starting college for the first time brings many “firsts,” including meeting new people, new educational experiences, new opportunities, new social situations, new temptations, and new responsibilities.  This may be the first time a student had to get him/herself out of bed, fix themselves a nutritious breakfast, and get to a class at 8:00am without the urging of a parent or sibling.


While the legal drinking age is 21, the Indiana College Substance Use Survey (2010) found  that 57% of Indiana college students under 21 had used alcohol in the past month, and that 37% of all students had engaged in binge drinking in the two weeks prior to the survey.  These under-age students reported that in most cases, they obtained alcohol through older friends and that over half of their responses indicated that the alcohol was available at off-campus parties.

Young women are often worried about “The Freshmen 15,” and weight gain in general and may engage in calorie-sparing eating or fasting to drink alcohol with the hope of not gaining weight.  Eating a good meal before attending parties where alcohol will be served is a better strategy for limiting excessive alcohol consumption, but those who want “more beer room,” will restrict eating before a party.  This behavior has been termed “drunkorexia,” and may be found in students also suffering from disordered eating behaviors.  Some liquor and beer manufacturers advertise products designed to appeal to young men and women wanting to consume alcoholic beverages with lower calories, including low-calorie beers, bottled “skinny” cocktails, and “lite” versions of fruit-flavored malt liquors.

A party where participants play drinking games provides the means for rapid consumption of alcohol than a person may be accustomed to imbibing with unpleasant consequences of inebriation or even alcohol poisoning.  Drinking games such as “Beer Pong,” “Sink the Bismarck,” “Thumper,” or “Flippy Cup,” playing Cornhole (a bean-bag toss game) with a drink-per-toss, or drinking upside down directly from a beer keg  are not activities which lend themselves to a sensible (if one is of legal age) limit of one drink (1 ounce of alcohol) per hour to allow time for the liver to metabolize the alcohol.

By Carole Nowicke,   8/1/2011