Dangerous binge drinking seems all set to enjoy its spring break-boost among college students, researchers fear.
Scott Walters, Ph.D., associate professor at The University of Texas School of Public Health Dallas Regional Campus, has said that spring break is one of the peak times for dangerous binge drinking.
Almost 1,700 college students each year die as the result of alcohol misuse and thousands more are injured or sexually assaulted.
"On average, college students drink a little more than adults, but what makes college drinking so risky is the pattern. Instead of drinking small amounts all through the week, they're more likely to save it up and drink it all at once. It's the bunching together of drinks that makes college drinking particularly risky," explained Walters.
And he claimed that the occurrence of this bunching is highest in spring break.
"The average student drinks three times as much during spring break as he or she would during a normal weekend. This is true for students who usually drink, and is also true for many students who usually abstain. Many abstainers jump ship during spring break," he said.
Walters pointed out that students who travel and students who spend spring break with friends are more likely to drink than students who go home or do a service project.
Research has shown that binge drinking places students at risk for carrying out or being the victim of physical or sexual assault. Alcohol also plays a role in risky sexual behaviour including unprotected sex and sex with multiple partners.
Physical effects range from hangovers to death from alcohol poisoning.
He said that alcohol can cause changes in the structure and function of the developing brain, a critical problem since the brain continues to develop into the mid-'20s.
Walters' research has centred on ways to reduce college drinking through tools such as an on-line program, e-CHUG , which stands for "electronic Check-Up to Go."
The program, based on Walters' doctoral research, has spread to more than 300 college campuses in 42 states.