This time of year, colleges are welcoming students back to campus and many are ready to party. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says every year, nearly 2,000 college students die from alcohol-related injuries. Healthy living's Katie Gibas reports.
This time of year, colleges are welcoming students back to campus and many are ready to party.
"It's always been an issue and if parents think back to when they were in college, it's probably much the same experience. You have a huge amount of freedom and you have to decide how to use it," said Brian Johnson, PhD, an Addiction Medicine Specialist at Upstate Medical University.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, four out of five college students drink alcohol. Half of those binge drink. That means four drinks or more for women and five or more for men.
"It affects everybody's health. The drinking person more than anyone. So you may suffer brain damage from high alcohol levels. You may develop alcohol poisoning. Occasionally, it's fatal. Drunk driving is horrible problem," said Johnson.
The Institute says every year, nearly 2,000 college students die from alcohol-related injuries. Hundreds of thousands more are assaulted, sexually abused and injured while someone is under the influence of alcohol. That's why experts say college drinking needs to be treated like a public health threat.
"If you think about it 40 percent of the U.S. population dies from addiction, 18 percent nicotine, 16 percent food addiction, five percent alcohol, one percent drugs. It's the hugest public health problem ever," said Johnson.
Experts say in addition to raising awareness about the dangers of binge drinking, we need to have an-ongoing and more open dialogue about the issue.
"You have to talk to your teenagers and the standard way to do it is don't ask them if they're using drugs, say 'I saw something interesting on YNN about drinking and drugs. What do you think about that?' You discuss it as out there not what are you doing because the kid won't answer. But, if you ask them something like what do your friends think about drinking, they'll give you a very nice answer," said Johnson.
Experts say the best place to start the discussion is in your own home and model the behavior you want your children to follow.