Binge drinking has been synonymous with typical young adult college culture for decades. Fillmore and Jude (2011) reported that binge drinking is often defined as someone drinking four to five drinks during one episode of drinking, or consuming enough alcohol for a person to have a blood alcohol concentration of .08% or higher. In this paper, I will define college culture as an exclusive group, with differing needs and attitudes from society, provide statistics and college cultural practices that demonstrate the prevalence of binge drinking amongst college students, explain several problems that can arise as a result of binge drinking, and explore harm reduction and motivational interviewing as viable treatment modalities used to decrease the likeliness of this cultural phenomenon.
College students represent a unique culture that have a multitude of needs that differ from other populations. College for many individuals is an opportunity to express their individualism and experience personal freedom. For many, this is the first time they are away from a structured home life and they are now able to make their own decisions. Now autonomous, they are free from punishment and reprimand from their parents because they are away from home and their actions are hidden by distance. This is an exciting time for the student as they are confronted with many new scenarios. Students are faced with finding new groups to be a part of and discovering ones’ identity becomes a new endeavor. In the article, Reconceptualizing Research on College Student Peer Culture, “Kuh identifies undergraduate peer groups as formal or informal groups "with which individual members identify, affiliate, and seek acceptance and approval over a prolonged period" (as cited in Kuh,1995, p. 564).
College culture then begins to form as different from other cultures, in that the formal and informal groups that students belong to are unique to the secondary education atmosphere. The authors of this article, Renn and Arnold (2003) indicate that, “Student peer culture, he [Kuh] continues, refers to the processes and norms that guide the formation of such peer groups and their influence on members' behaviors and interpretive frameworks”. Renn and Arnold (2003) add that they most closely align their definition with Kuh in that, “Campus peer culture encompasses the forces and processes that shape individual and collective life on campus in terms of identity, group membership, acceptable discourse, and desirable behaviors” (Renn & Arnold, 2003, p. 262). The fact that these individuals are students, young and away from home in a new environment, searching for identity and the desire to belong, places them in the distinctive culture know as college students. This creates a vulnerable environment with high susceptibility to negative behaviors such as binge drinking and its consequences.
The staggering fact that the number one leading cause of preventable death on college campuses has been...