As recognition grows that binge drinking on colleges nationwide is more prevalent than ever, school administrators and parents alike are seeking useful intervention to combat this issue. Studies have determined that “students’ use of alcohol is shaped, to some extent; by how much they think other students on campus drink” (Wechsler 2000:57). Most college students are in the particular age group that statistically has the highest rate of binge drinking. According to the American Journal of Public Health, this leads college students who decide to overindulge “extremely vulnerable to such health problems as: injuries from related car crashes; unplanned and unsafe sex; assault and aggressive behavior; alcohol dependence; and possibly death” (Nelson 2005: 441). This research paper seeks to better understand certain predictors to college binge drinking. I will specifically focus on college students in Wisconsin and California. Having attended higher education in both states, I want to understand why Wisconsin has such a higher rate of college binge drinkers than California.
Binge drinking and the ensuing problems associated with its use are considered to be the number one public health problem affecting college students today (Nelson 2005). Excessive alcohol consumption is associated with many undesirable health and social consequences for individuals who chose to partake in such behavior, and accounts for approximately $184 billion in overall economic costs in the United States annually (Nelson 2005). Among college students alone, excessive alcohol abuse accounts for roughly 1,400 deaths and nearly 500,000 injuries per year (Nelson 2005). Although most students first experiment with alcohol in high school, there is a noticeable increase in use once they attend college. In 2004, The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defined Binge drinking as the “consumption of five or more drinks in a row on a single occasion for men, and four or more drinks in a row for women” (Banta 2008:802).
For the purpose of this thesis, I will look specifically at binge drinking rates among college students in Wisconsin and California. Having attended higher education in each state, I will try to gain a better understanding as to why there is a higher level of binge drinking among college students in Wisconsin than California. I will look at significant themes such as underage drinking, adult binge drinking, and certain alcohol-related policies in both states to show that there is a correlation between the aforementioned variables and college binge drinking.
Sociologists in Wisconsin have for years tried to determine why alcohol is so engrained in that state’s culture. Sociologists concede that “Climate, ethnicity, the historical significance of the brewing business, a relative lack of newcomers who would want to reform lenient laws, as well as the social nature of drinking in general are all possible...