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Binge Drinking Puts the Brain, and Life Itself, at Risk
Date:11/7/2009

are in an emergency, such as an alcoholic overdose," said Shirley Haberman, director of GatorWell Health Promotion Services at the University of Florida, in Gainesville.

Her department tries to be proactive, she said, getting the word out that binge drinking is risky drinking and letting students know how to help when fellow students might need emergency care. New students, she said, are given a brochure developed by the alcohol industry that encourages responsible drinking.

In the surrounding community, Haberman said, the city council has worked to encourage bars and taverns to be responsible by ensuring, for instance, that patrons are 21 or older.

At Stony Brook, it took a tragedy to inspire an anti-binge-drinking program. The college-age son of a long-time faculty member died of acute alcohol poisoning while attending a university in the Midwest. This past spring, Hwang and others created a peer-training program that teaches students to recognize dangerous symptoms of intoxication and to call 911 when needed.

Students who complete the four-hour program, which also includes CPR training, learn that letting those who are drunk and passed out sleep it off is not the safe or wise thing to do, Hwang said. It's called the Red Watch Band Program because those who complete it are given a red watch to wear to show they are part of the program.

Among the students who've signed up for the program so farm, "many of them are concerned about their friends," Hwang said. Some have called 911, and others have distracted friends headed to a party where heavy drinking was expected by suggesting alternate activities.

More than 20 other colleges are planning to launch the program, she said.

How can parents help? For starters, don't share your own war stories of college drinking, Hwang urged. Parents can also discuss the legal problems associated with underage drinking and encourage their offspring to look out for
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