According to the NIAAA, approximately 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related injuries, including motor vehicle crashes, and an estimated 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol.
During spring break — a time when peer pressure, ready access to alcohol and drugs, and encouragement of reckless behaviors — those numbers hit a high point. As spring break looms for schools and colleges in the County, how do we make a change about this?
These headlines appear too commonly:
- Spring Breaker killed in DUI crash (Panama City Beach, FL)
A Tennessee teen faces DUI manslaughter charges after a spring breaker was killed Sunday night in a head-on collision. more
- USC student plunged to his death during Mexican spring break (2013)
A college student plunged to his death during his spring break in Mexico as he was trying to climb into a sixth-floor hotel room after drinking. more
- Spring breaker dies in alcohol-related incident (Panama City Beach, FL, 2013)
A 20-year-old Michigan college student died from an apparent alcohol overdose during spring break. more
As reported by the Journal of American College Health that during spring break, the average male reported drinking 18 drinks per day and the average female reported 10 drinks per day. About half drank until they got sick or passed out at least once.
Alcohol poisoning is an obvious risk with binge drinking. Spring break can also heighten other dangerous behaviors associated with alcohol use, including severe dehydration from the sun, sexual assault, falls, and more.
Parents are concerned. Many feel that irresponsible industry promotions add to the problem — for example, advertising targeting college students under 21, and tour packages offering spring break vacations in other countries with lower legal drinking ages. Many also feel that colleges do not safeguard or prepare their students before the students start their breaks.
The problem persists. Some measures have been taken at various spring break locales to strengthen policies surrounding young people and alcohol use, and alternative (and alcohol-free) spring breaks are gaining momentum on some college campuses.
It will take much more work to examine and change perceptions around spring break and the “wild” reputation it currently has. But the work must be done; otherwise we’ll continue to lose young people to senseless incidents.
More information and resources:
- Preliminary Examination of Spring Break Alcohol Use and Related Consequences – National Institutes of Health
- How can parents keep kids safe at spring break? – Courier-Journal (KY)
- American Medical Association Poll Finds Parents Outraged by Spring Break Promotions – AlcoholPolicyMD.com
- Alcohol, sun, drugs present Spring Break danger – Murray State News