Not only are the people who binge drink putting themselves at risk, but their drinking can have serious consequences for others, Hingson said.
"We estimate there are probably 700,000 students who are assaulted each year by a drinking college student and 100,000 sexual assaults that are linked to college drinking," he said. "Plus half of the drinking-related traffic deaths among college students are people other than the drinking driver."
Dr. David L. Katz, director of the Prevention Research Center at Yale University School of Medicine, said that to reverse the trends, society needs to take drinking among college students more seriously.
"Options for bad judgment available to a college student are determined by society, and ours is decidedly ambivalent about alcohol," Katz said. "Drinking to excess is often given favorable treatment in the media, and in social groups."
To change these trends, young people drinking to excess will need to be discouraged by the very people whose opinions matter most to them -- friends in their own peer group, Katz said.
"For this to occur, our society must both render and convey a clearer verdict opposing this casual form of alcohol abuse," he said.
Hingson said that a number of interventions have been shown to work, including counseling high-risk drinkers, raising the price of alcohol, and getting colleges, community health departments and police to work together on the problem.
Yet some college presidents think there should be a debate about lowering the drinking age, Hingson noted. "But, when we look at the data, binge drinking and driving is mostly among 21- to 24-year-olds," he said. "It's not among the 18- to 20-year-old group," he said.
"It appears to me that some colleges are not implementing the interventions, where we've got evidence that they work," Hingson said. "The challenge for us is to ma
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