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EDITORIAL: Alcohol Awareness Week emphasized by real-life example

A Northwest College student illustrated the poor judgment and lack of reasoning and coordination that go hand in hand with binge drinking last week when he allegedly stole a van near one of the residence halls. By the time police officers apprehended him a short time later, he had crashed into two fences, a police car and two other vehicles, court documents say. Officers reported he smelled strongly of alcohol.

Ironically, the incident occurred during Alcohol Awareness Week at the college, with members of the P.A.R.T.Y. group sponsoring activities and events during the week to get the message out about the dangers and consequences of binge drinking.

This young man has already had a lesson about the consequences of his actions, and those consequences likely will continue to pile up over coming weeks and months. All of them could have been avoided if he had made wiser choices. He's fortunate that he didn't kill himself or someone else.

But the news isn't all bad. Alcohol Awareness Week also focused on the fact that most Northwest College students don't binge drink. Statistics show 31 percent of NWC students binge drink. That's 10 percent fewer than the 41 percent average at colleges and universities nationwide, according to a report by the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse. Binge drinking was defined as drinking five or more drinks on the same occasion on at least one day in the past 30 days.

Still, that's far too high. That means three NWC students out of every 10 have engaged in binge drinking. That increases the likelihood they will get in trouble with the law by driving drunk or doing some other foolish thing that they never would consider if they were sober. By binge drinking, they also increase the risk that they will become the victims of crimes —or at the very least, of bad choices with lasting consequences.

Binge drinking frequently leads to use of illicit drugs as well. The survey report states, “Underage persons who reported binge drinking were almost nine times more likely to have used marijuana/hashish during the past month and were more than six times more likely to have used any illicit drug other than marijuana during the past month compared with underage persons who did not binge drink.”

The P.A.R.T.Y. group continues to challenge students to evaluate their use or non-use of alcohol through an E-Checkup program. As an incentive, NWC President Paul Prestwich has said he will dye his hair red if 600 students complete the E-Checkup online by Nov. 18.

The group is to be commended for its efforts to curb drinking, particularly binge drinking, by NWC students. Those students would be wise to listen, and to act accordingly, to avoid learning hard lessons of their own.

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