The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Saturday February 4th

Alcohol Abuse Worries Parents

An American Medical Association survey found that 95 percent of college students' parents consider binge drinking a serious threat to their children's health.

Binge drinking is often defined as four drinks in an hour for women or five for men. According to the study, about 44 percent of college students nationwide admitted to binge drinking.

The survey also found that 85 percent of people consider easy access to alcohol in college towns as a significant contributing factor to underage and binge drinking.

Dr. J. Edward Hill, AMA chairman-elect, stated in a press release that it was time for medical and college officials to take binge drinking more seriously.

"We can no longer treat binge drinking as a rite of passage," he stated in the release. "It's a major health threat not only to binge drinkers but also to the people around them."

Sennai Habtes, a UNC junior from the U.S. Virgin Islands, said he does not think there is a serious binge drinking problem on campus but added that he has seen people drinking heavily on Franklin Street.

"A lot of people here drink a lot for no other reason than to drink," Habtes said, pointing out that people in the Virgin Islands tend to drink more for social reasons than people in the United States.

He also said that bars closing at a set time contributes to excessive drinking.

"That encourages people to drink as much as they can until closing time," Habtes said, adding that bars in the Virgin Islands remain open until customers are gone.

UNC officials also said binge drinking was not a major campus problem.

Dean Blackburn, coordinator of Substance Abuse Counseling, pointed to the "2 Out of 3 Survey" conducted in 1999.

The study found that two out of every three students returned to their residence halls with 0.00 blood alcohol concentration on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights.

"UNC has had a tradition of a perception of being a party school," Blackburn said. "The key word is perception."

He added that heavy drinking can lead to several problems, including vandalism, physical or sexual violence, aggression and littering.

Blackburn added that most students living in residence halls complained about noise and vomit -- problems partly caused by excessive drinking.

He said he was pleased that so many parents are concerned about their children's drinking habits.

Blackburn said students who were concerned about their drinking habits could talk to counselors at the Center for Healthy Student Behaviors. "They'll help assess your drinking habits," Blackburn said. "There's not an agenda to get you to stop drinking. They just help you get where you want to be."

The State & National Editor can be reached at stntdesk@unc.edu.

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