Monday, April 15, 2024 -
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Alcohol Poisoning

The Associated Press has analyzed federal records to learn that 157 college-age youth drank themselves to death from 1999 through 2005. These are people 18 to 23 — otherwise perfectly healthy people.

This tragic waste is more than an extreme expression of “kids will be kids.” Nor is it merely a result of the pressures of college. It is a reflection of group think and corrupt values. How does an individual come to drink 21 shots on his or her 21st birthday? Surely not by thinking for oneself. How do students tell each other “to sleep it off” when one of them has a blood alcohol level of 0.40 (five times the legal limit for driving)? Surely not out of respect for fundamental health conditions.

The fact is that universities have increased their programs to teach incoming freshmen the dangers of binge drinking and various states have passed laws to discourage it. Since these tactics do not work well enough — 11 people alone died after drinking 21 shots on their 21st birthday — the problem is clearly deep-seated. It takes, yes, more education, and, yes, more laws to counter student binge drinking, but it takes more: a reevaluation of values in society at large.

The widespread use of alcohol, like cigarettes, like drugs, posits that addiction is, if not quite normal, still expected. It is assumed that the pressures of life in contemporary, high-speed technocracies must yield an addiction, or at least a therapist. Until people learn to slow down, to treasure values based on family or religion or both, all the immediate responses to binge drinking on campus will not stop it. Students cannot be expected to devise better values in a vacuum.
The issue is ultimately not just for the campus, but for all of us.

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