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We talk about underage drinking all year long, but this week it comes into the spotlight during National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week. This is a program that was developed over 25 years ago when alcohol abuse on college campuses was identified as a primary concern across the country. In response, some Universities have added a mandatory online alcohol education class for students prior to registering for their academic schedules. In addition to this, on campus alcohol awareness activities have become more and more prevalent. Numerous studies have shown that involving students in University alcohol abuse efforts reaches more students simply because young adults tend to listen more closely to their peers. During this weeklong National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness week, over 1,000 campuses across the country will provide students with opportunities to participate in events designed by student leaders to reinforce the risks of alcohol abuse and the importance of taking responsibility to follow school policies about alcohol consumption. Students can expect to get involved in different activities each day that cover topics like the dangers of drinking and driving, alcohol and sex, drugs and alcohol, and fun classes like how to make alcohol free mocktails. Many events will also give out free t-shirts, sunglasses and things that the average college student could always use.

Why does it feel like this topic is endlessly rehashed and rehashed? The answer is because the most recent study from the CDC continues to show that even with all the open discussion, one out of every ten deaths in the U.S. is still alcohol related. According to the research, most of these deaths are a result of short term incidents like car crashes, alcohol overdoses and falls, not things like cancer or liver disease that generally take years to gestate.

College campuses have always been a hotbed for alcohol abuse. Young adults are away from home for the first time without parental supervision and they see others drinking so they partake to fit in. After a week of intense studying and test taking, alcohol related partying becomes a popular way to blow off steam to relax. However, what young people sometimes don’t realize or don’t pay attention to is that the outcome of binge drinking can be dire. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1,400 college students die each year from alcohol related injuries, 500,000 are unintentionally injured and 600,000 are assaulted in some way by someone who has been drinking.

Another point that this weeklong event will highlight is that if a friend passes out after heavy drinking, the answer isn’t to leave them alone and let them sleep it off. Friends should monitor the person’s breathing habits because passing out can be life threatening. If an individual drinks enough to pass out, the amount of alcohol has caused the brain to start shutting down which further affects the nervous system and so on. In many cases students are afraid to call anyone for help because they don’t want to get themselves in trouble for underage drinking. Students across the country will be reminded of the Good Samaritan or Lifeline laws that are now in effect in many states. These laws are not meant to support underage drinking but to give amnesty to those who call 911 to save a friend’s life. Students can help save a life by paying attention and getting involved if someone else has had too much to drink.