Use and abuse

Let’s be honest, almost every single college student consumes alcohol at some point during his or her college career.

For some students, drinking with friends is a social event that happens many weekends throughout the school year.

Alcohol is a great way to relax after a stressful week of homework, exams and work. For those of us who don’t consider ourselves “social butterflies,” alcohol can be very helpful in allowing us to unwind and talk to more people.

There are even certain days like Halloween and St. Patrick’s Day that the majority of students see as another opportunity to throw back a few cold ones. For the heavier drinkers, those days are just called weekends.

The consequences of drinking too much may be as minor as a hangover or getting sick; however, alcohol abuse can lead to serious health complications or can even be fatal.

According to the National Survey on Drug Use and Health for 2009, 43.5 percent of college students were binge drinkers and 16 percent were “heavy” drinkers. The survey defined “binge” as five or more drinks within a couple hours and “heavy” as five or more drinks on the same occasion at least five times in the last month.

While these numbers may not be shocking, the most troubling statistic in the survey regarded driving under the influence. The survey indicated that 24.8 percent of people between the ages of 21-25 admitted to driving under the influence within the last year.

It’s one thing to drink, but it’s entirely another to drive after drinking. Every time you get behind the wheel after drinking, you endanger every person on the road and take your life into your own hands.

Find a designated driver, call a cab, or walk home if you live close by. If you have friends who are kind enough to let you sleep on the couch, party with them more often instead of going to the bar.

It may be only two letters in the dictionary, but the difference between use and abuse when it comes to alcohol can be the difference between life and death.