Science & Tech

Dying to drink

1 min read

Book by Harvard researcher confronts binge drinking on college campuses

Henry Wechsler, lecturer on social psychology in the Department of Health and Social Behavior and director of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Studies Program, defines binge drinking as having five or more drinks in a row for men and four or more drinks in a row for women at least once in the past two weeks. His research has revealed that two out of five college students binge drink at least once per week; more students binge drink than smoke cigarettes or take illicit drugs; and an estimated 1,400 college students die each year from binge drinking, the majority from drunk driving accidents. Why does this happen? In Dying to Drink: Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses (Rodale/August 2002), Wechsler and science writer Bernice Wuethrich point to several factors. A ring of bars and liquor stores surround most colleges, said Wechsler. Cheap beer, ladies’ nights, bar parties, and pub crawls directed at students make binge drinking easy and affordable. “Big Alcohol” strategizes how to reach college students in particular because they drink more than their non-college peers, said Wechsler. Drinkers tend to stick with the brands they try first, so competition for new drinkers is strong.