Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses

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9781579547776: Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses

Underage drinking and binge drinking are not harmless rites of passage. Rather than serving as some kind of bridge to adulthood, these illicit activities exact a senseless and severe price in blood and brain cells each semester. The proof is in the firsthand student accounts of out-of-control house parties and bar blasts, the testimonies of concerned health care professionals, and the tragic news stories related in this landmark book.

The good news is that the damage, injuries, and deaths attributed to binge drinking are avoidable. The solutions offered in Dying to Drink will help schools to improve the quality of campus life, parents to ensure the safety of their sons and daughters, and our young people to get the most out of their college years-- without the beer goggles.

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From the Inside Flap:

College binge drinking is more of an issue than ever. In recent years the alcohol industry has stepped up its efforts to convince students, school administrators, and health officials that the problem isn't really so bad. Yet the fact is that at least two out of every five U.S. college students regularly binge drink, resulting each year in approximately fourteen hundred student deaths, a distressing number of assaults and rapes, a shameful amount of vandalism, and countless cases of academic suicide.

In Dying to Drink, Harvard researcher Henry Wechsler, Ph.D., and science writer Bernice Wuethrich take stock of the problem. Citing surprising statistics from his series of College Alcohol Studies (CAS), released most recently in 2002, Dr. Wechsler warns that drinking on campus is taking a bigger toll than most of us realize. And it's not just the students themselves who pay: One estimate puts the cost of underage drinking at around $53 billion a year, including $18 billion associated with traffic crashes that threaten the general public--about 57 percent of frequent binge drinkers and 40 percent of occasional binge drinkers admit getting behind the wheel after drinking. Is this a price we're willing to pay for a teenager's drunken "fun"?

Perhaps more chilling even than the cold facts and figures are the personal confessions gathered from Wechsler's survey and Wuethrich's independent interviews. A college junior who regularly drinks until he blacks out recounts how, if not why, he does it; a nonbinge drinker tells about the secondhand effects of alcohol that he's suffered at the hands of inebriated roommates; and on- and off-campus partygoers describe the sometimes dangerous conditions encountered in college environments where heavy drinking is encouraged, especially at fraternity houses, sporting events, and in the many bars surrounding universities.

But Dying to Drink doesn't just aim to scare--the authors care about solving the problem. Along with a Resources section that points readers to the best organizations to team up with, the final segment of the book lists specific ways that we all can take action against the binge drinking menace that hobbles higher education in this country.

About the Author:

Henry Wechsler, Ph.D., is the director of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Studies program and a lecturer in the school's Department of Health and Social Behavior. He conducted his first national survey of college binge drinking in 1993.

Bernice Wuethrich is a science writer whose work has appeared in Discover, Smithsonian, Science, International Wildlife, and New Scientist magazines.

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Henry Wechsler, Bernice Wuethrich
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