Kent State students considered average binge drinkers

Percent of 2011 KSU undergraduates with alcohol related problems since the beginning of the academic year.

Rex Santus

Forty-six percent of Kent State students reported binge drinking over the past year, according to an annual drug and alcohol use survey conducted by R. Scott Olds, professor of social and behavioral science.

Olds conducts research he said focuses on adolescent and young adult alcohol abuse.

Nationally, 44 percent of college students reported heavy episodic or binge drinking. Though Kent State’s numbers are slightly higher, Olds said the university’s students are considered average heavy drinkers.

Heavy episodic drinking is, for women, the consumption of four or more alcoholic beverages in one sitting, Olds said. For men, heavy drinking is five or more drinks.

“It’s not the kind of thing to be proud of,” Olds said. “Sometimes students think that is a badge of honor.”

About a third of the students who reported heavy drinking also reported driving while intoxicated in the last year, Olds said. More than half reported riding in a car with an impaired driver.

Many college students consume alcohol because they think it’s normal, Olds said.


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“Students tend to overestimate how much drinking is going on on campus, and that overestimation is a risk factor for heavy drinking,” Olds said. “They think it’s normative or OK behavior and are therefore more likely to engage in it.”

Amibeth Allman, sophomore integrated language arts major, said she believes heavy drinking is normal for college students.

“Everyone in college thinks that to have a good time, you have to go out and drink,” Allman said. “That isn’t necessarily true, but I think it’s part of the college experience for many people.”

Allman said she drinks heavily “every weekend — at least once.”

People often do not realize how quickly alcohol can affect their bodies, Olds said.

“The presumptive level of intoxication in the state of Ohio is at .08 (blood-alcohol level),” Olds said. “There is really good evidence to suggest that impairment of judgment begins at .05.”

Olds said impaired judgment can lead to other negative consequences of alcohol abuse such as alcohol poisoning, physical conflict and unwanted harm to yourself and others.

“There are about 150 students every month across the country over a nine-month calendar year … who die either from alcohol poisoning, alcohol crashes or alcohol incidents,” Olds said. “It’s a very significant issue.”

Despite the dangers of heavy drinking, Allman said she has no plans to stop.

“I don’t drink every day,” Allman said. “I’m not addicted to it.”

Contact Rex Santus at [email protected].