Finding serenity in binge drinking?

Yesterday at around 11:30 pm, after Taraweeh prayer, a miracle happened to a dear friend of mine. He and his 15 year old son both survived death. While driving home with his son a drunk driver hit their car from behind and ran away. The back of the car is pushed to the middle. The crash was so powerful his car was totaled. My friend told me that after the shock he thought he was died; he was unaware of what happened for couple of seconds. Alhamdulilah, both my friend and his son were safe but both were in shock. I had to go with my friend to the ER because he had a painful neck injury. Since this hospital is a university hospital the ER was packed with young drunk college kids. Some of those kids were in the ER because they either were fighting and injured themselves, or not feeling well after drinking, or were in car accidents.

Luckily, the young man who hit my friend was caught driving away within minutes. His car’s air bags were activated and so he could not drive any further. This stupid guy is going to jail and is going to suffer the consequences because he was driving while under influence, he flee an accident he caused, and if he is under 21 then he is considered an underage drinker which is illegal. This kid and those who are alike get drunk on the weekends so on Monday he can brag in front of his friends that he was “wasted.” Among American college kids it is cool to be “wasted.” What he didn’t expect is that instead of being wasted for one night he wasted his future as well. Good for him.

Being among college kids for 8 years I got used to hearing terms such as “Let’s go get drunk” or  “I want to get wasted this weekend.” Those kids believe that fun is associated with drinking only. No drinking means no fun.

At the beginning of each semester many college kids celebrate the starting of school by drinking. Since I live on campus I have to see what happens in the weekends or after these parties. I saw girls walking aimlessly barefoot, throwing up in the middle of the streets, and the worst I saw was young women squatting on the road side, on public, releasing themselves. Speaking about self respect. All for the sake of been accepted in the college community by binge drinking which is “drinking alcoholic beverages with the primary intention of becoming intoxicated by heavy consumption of alcohol over a short period of time.”

Here are very few facts about binge drinking among college students (some bullets from my university website):

  • About 90% of the alcohol consumed by youth under the age of 21 in the United States is in the form of binge drinks [source].
  • Rape and sexual assault is even more common on college campuses than in the rest of the U.S. population. This is due in part to the use of alcohol by perpetrators as a predatory drug.
  • 1 in 4 women are sexual assaulted during their college years.
  • 91% of adult female rape victims reported that they knew the man who raped them.
  • Alcohol and other drugs are involved in 55-74% of sexual assaults on campuses.

Couple of year ago I and some friends were on the highway driving two cars. I and my friends in the car noticed that there was a car following our friends’ car. We called them and they confirmed that a woman is driving behind them very fast and she doesn’t want to change lane. They could not slow down because she will hit them and whenever they change lane she followed them. From her driving maneuvering we found she was drunk. It was night and on the highway were you the speed limit was 70 mph (100+ km). It was very scary and dangerous situation. We asked them to drive very fast and change lane quickly so we can block her and we did. Alhamdulilah, everyone went alright but it was very scary experience. Imagine driving at 70 mph near someone who has no control or power to even stand up straight.

I know my university does all kind of surveys to find the number of students drinking alcohol and how often or how much they drink. But I don’t see any progress. Binge drinking is still one life style among college students. Every culture has it is embarrassing behaviors or customs but this behavior is not only degrading to young men and women it is deadly.


12 thoughts on “Finding serenity in binge drinking?

  1. I always wondered why these countries don’t ban alcohol entirely. But I guess their economy will probably suffer. Well, that’s the price you pay…

    1. I don’t think they can completely ban alcoholic beverages. But you are right they can’t just limit a multi-billion business.

  2. Ehab,

    The US did ban alcohol entirely in the 1920s. It was a disaster. Everything went underground, with the Mafia becoming the main suppliers. Their power grew immensely and they paid off all the officials to make sure the authorities didn’t trouble them. The country became so corrupt that you had politicians, judges, policemen all in the pay of the Mafia. In the end, the government had no choice but the end the ban, though strict controls remain in the US (it’s illegal to drink under the age of 21).

    There’s no right way to address the problem of binge drinking. I’m British and my country has some of the worst binge-drinking rates in the world – the legal drinking age is 16. It’s just part of the culture, which makes it even harder to control (all of my non-Muslim friends have binged at least once). Some say that introducing children to responsible drinking from an early age (like they do in France) is the solution. But the binge drinking culture is also creeping its way intro French society (before they thought this was solely a British/German problem).

    1. I ditto what you wrote to Ehab. Completely banning something may create different kind of problems.
      16??? that is too young! Of course a 16 year old will try binge drinking. That is insane.

  3. Excellent and important post! Particularly as the new academic year is starting.

    I have studied at universities for what may seem like forever to some, and as an academic and therapist see university students both casually and professionally.

    One of my student-patients, said she came for help because despite trying to curb her (binge) drinking when out at bars on weekends she woke up YET AGAIN in some guy’s apartment whom she had met in the bar/dance for the first time and had sex with while drunk.

    Different national drinking patterns produce different types of alcoholics, and they approach treatment differently (full abstention is largely only a US idea, among non-Muslim majority nations). Most university aged students who develop an alcoholic pattern resume normal drinking after they graduate and move on to a different stage in their lives. Some do not. This is partly because during university years they are away from home for the first time, are learning self-discipline for the first time, drinking is seen as a sign of maturity, drinking is a common (sometimes seemingly all pervasive) social activity on campus, social shyness is relieved by alcohol, peer pressure, and that the brain doesn’t fully mature neurologically until age 25, with judgment, impulse control, and the ability to project consequences into the future all impaired.

    Universities could at least make a statement against drinking by closing on campus pubs for undergraduates; being rigorous about checking ID; being restrictive with what liquor licences are issued for temporary serving of alcohol during an event; tying serious breaches of moral behaviour or the law to academic records. Also, to make students aware of recognizing problematic drinking behaviours in themselves and others, how to deal with it, and where to go for help.

    Thanks for raising this topic and in an excellent manner. I should make it part of a follow-up to the 2 part advice post to foreign students that I and another blogger have done. Part I is up, and Part II is soon (hours, days) to follow.

    1. Chiara,
      Thank you! I am very glad that someone with your expertise and background participated in writing a feedback about this post. Your comment is very educational. I think the best way to solve the binge drinking among college students is to approach the problem the same way we did teaching our kids the risk of smoking. In the early days, every movie star had to smoke because smoking back then was very manly. In the 60s and 70s it was cool to smoke for both genders. I know Europeans smoke more than Americans (I am not sure about Canadians) but in the US you don’t see people smoke everywhere. It is not cool, among the teenagers, to smoke anymore. I will check your blog to read more about this subject.
      When I was in college in Jordan, some Muslim college students used to drink beer for no reason other than to brag about their new experience of breaking some taboos.

      1. Jaraad–thank you for your kind words. I agree that making drinking “uncool” would help. I find that some Muslims drink with an adolescent pattern well into adulthood because of the taboo factor. That is they drink and then brag about how much they drank, eg at a dinner with the hub’s best friend, the friend kept drinking whiskey from his private bottle at a club, and noting the number of drinks and then said “See, I drank a third of the bottle”. Most men in their 30’s don’t do that, and he isn’t the only one. The taboo factor may make Muslims away from home for the first time more vulnerable to drinking as well as wanting to fit in. It would be interesting to look into this more.

        Part I of the student advice post is here:

        Advice to Saudi and Other Foreign Students Studying Abroad–Part I Chiara’s 10 Recommendations and 10 Tips

        All are welcome to read and comment.
        Please share your expertise there! 🙂

  4. الحمد لله على سلامتهما !

    منظومة الأخلاق و الفيم إذا عدمت لن تنفع القوانين الوضعية المنعية في منع مثل هذه الأحداث
    أتفق مع أن المنع “المطلق” سيولد مشاكل كبيرة + كثيرة و ذلك فعلا ً ما حدث في أميريكا

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