Spring Break Dangers

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) about half of all college students binge drink at some point.  Spring break has been a tradition of college students for decades and is the most likely time that binge drinking will become extreme and turn deadly.

According to Dr. Eric Collins, a psychiatrist who specializes in treating addiction, and Physician-in-Chief at Silver Hill Hospital in New Canaan, CT, “Binge drinking is probably one the most concerning of all activities that college students engage in while on spring break.  It is always on the minds of parents who ultimately know that it goes on.”

Can spring break be enjoyed without being in an alcohol-induced stupor for the entire week? One study found that during spring break, male students typically drank an average of 18 drinks per day and females had up to 10 drinks. Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks in two hours for males and four drinks for women. So are these drinks being had consistently throughout the day, or more likely in a brief binge over a few hours in the evening? The latter kind of heavy drinking puts individuals in danger, not only of alcohol overdose, but also of being too inebriated to recognize dangers.

One of the dangers of this excessive drinking is alcohol poisoning, which can easily result in death. High levels of alcohol can cause a person to stop breathing.  Vomiting can cause asphyxiation because the gag reflex can become impaired with high levels of intoxication.

Signs of alcohol poisoning include slow and irregular breathing, vomiting, confusion and may lapse into unconsciousness. If these are observed, the heavily intoxicated person should be taken to the emergency department immediately.

Additionally, injuries result from excessive drunkenness. Each year over 1,825 students under the age of 24 are now dying from unintentional injuries related to alcohol use.

Please do not hesitate to help someone who may be binge drinking and looks to be in trouble. Even if you have been drinking, if you see someone in danger, call 911. Do not leave an intoxicated person alone to “sleep it off.” Get anyone who has passed out to an emergency room.  And do not leave your friends alone, whether they have been drinking for not. There is safety in being together. You really could be saving a life!



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