Today, in Denver, the latest study into student binge-drinking is being presented at the American Sociological Association’s annual meeting. The findings are interesting because they equate drinking habits with social status.
The main findings are that high-status college students, club presidents, sports-teams and other popular types, are more likely to binge-drink then their low-status classmate. So far, so big whup. College parties happen on a ocean of booze and much socializing happens in environments where alcohol is available so it stands to reason that those who are more socially successful drink more.
The US News reported that the types of students most likely to give their liver a kicking were white, wealthy, straight, male, or fraternity members while those with lighter drinking habits were most likely to be poorer, non-white, female, gay, or not part of the fraternity system.
The study was undertaken by Carolyn Hsu, an associate professor of sociology and chair in the department of sociology and anthropology at Colgate University in Hamilton, N.Y. She decided that any consumption of five alcoholic drinks in one sitting counted as “binge drinking”.
The study only sampled the students of one college however – a liberal arts school in the northeast. Hsu said, “…we really don’t want the take-home message of this research to be, ‘Students, it’s a reasonable choice to drink – it makes you happier’. We want to make clear that we believe binge drinking is a really dangerous and ultimately self-destructive behavior, and that a social power structure that promotes this is a bad thing”.
The addiction industry was quick to weigh-in with their viewpoint. It came in the form of Jeffrey Parsons who is a psychology professor who specializes in addiction. He said, “College can represent a very stressful period in the life of a young person. New responsibilities, less parental monitoring, and more reliance and need for peer support. As a result, it’s not surprising that students who escape from such pressures through binge drinking might report being happier”.
He continued to say, “drinking can feel like an effective coping mechanism… this study suggests that binge drinking helps more marginalized students feel like they fit in”. He pointed out that it’s distressing to see students who might be dissatisfied with their college experience turn to binge drinking. He said colleges must do more to see that these students’ needs are met in better ways.”
Some of the more retarded elements in society (ABC News, for example) have been quick to say that the study equates alcohol abuse with social success and would therefore encourage students to drink more – presumably because students are incapable of thinking for themselves.
And the choice whether to drink or not is an important one seeing as the study points out that in some aspects of student social life, not-drinking may find you left out. Furthermore there is a large amount of injuries and even deaths related to alcohol abuse on-campus. Why, my own roommate broke his collarbone… twice after drinking too much.
So the moral of the story is that if marijuana was legal and advertised like alcohol, everything would be better.