Record High Alcohol Hospitalizations at Penn State

This week, Pennsylvania’s Daily Gant gave us a snapshot of the worsening binge drinking problem on college campuses. In 2008, the number of students hospitalized for alcohol-related issues at the Nittany Medical Center reached a record high: 558 students were hospitalized last year, which amounts to an 84% increase over the past three years. The problem got so bad that the number of students admitted to the hospital between August and December of 2008 – 313 – surpassed the number of students hospitalized during all of 2005.

Increased rates of binge drinking appear to be part of the problem, as average blood alcohol levels rose “from 0.234 percent in 2005 to 0.252 percent last year.”

The paper also notes that the average age of a student visiting the hospital for an alcohol-related issue is 20, a year below the legal drinking age. Legal Age 21 isn’t working, and the problem appears to be getting worse.

4 Responses to “Record High Alcohol Hospitalizations at Penn State”

  1. Edwin Says:

    It’s very unfortunate that alcohol abuse at Penn State got so bad that there’s a record high number of hospitalizations. With this in mind, the drinking age must be lowered to 18 along with the alcohol education program because it will significantly reduce alcohol abuse while recognizing the age of majority. In addition, those that say that the current drinking age must be perserved are wrong because the drinking age is a problem starter. Finally, don’t forget to comment.

  2. Michael Says:

    The answer to this is education. I can’t comment on the drinking age as there is not a solid argument for causality of the increase. There was no control variable, and the drinking age was the same in both years.

    This does indicate that the problem is getting worse. Lowering the drinking age may help, but it may facilitate binge drinking or have no effect on it (assuming those who would binge drink would do so regardless of the law).

    If the drinking age were lowered, I’d hope that resources to prevent binge drinking would not decline and cause a negative effect on fighting excessive drinking or be seen as either or both of those declines (so that opponents could not use it as evidence to raise the age back up).

  3. Charles Says:

    I am a PA Magisterial District Judge. I am familiar with the authorities in State College who continue to engage students in an all-out war on under-age drinking, with the blessing of the University. Understandibly, the University takes no prisoners in this war, as it does not want to lose students to alcohol poisioning. That said, the government, NHTSA, Madd Mothers and all enforcement agencies are fighting a losing battle. In PA, an underage drinking citation will lead to a suspension (90 days for your first, 1 year for the second, and 2 years for the third and subsequent convictions) of driving privleges. I had a kid tell me that using heroin was less of hassle. What are we doing? Penn State had an incident on St. Patrick’s feast day in 2007 in which a student fell 3 stories onto concrete and broke his back during a dorm party raided by police, trying to avoid his second citation. Although I am persuaded by the recent MRI studies showing brain maturation lasting into the early or mid-twenties, I am not naive enough to believe that any amount of enforcement is enough to convince college students to abstain. I have attended legislative hearings on the problem, and I am convinced that the Choose Responsibility idea will be a tough, but necessary sell to the college law enforcement community.

  4. Vickie Says:

    We have made drinking into a final rite of passage and something that is kept away (thus made far more desirable for its “forbidden fruit” quality) it really is crazy. And then, we make the legal age happen at a time when kids are away from home and the guidance of their parents. What a recipe for disaster!

    I remember coming home with the first hangover of my entire life. I now realise that my dad sized the situation up in about 23 seconds flat.

    For some reason we went shopping at the mall together, he actually allowed me to select the radio station and even turned up the volume quite a ways in the car… It was sheer torture.

    He never said a single word about my “condition”. But, I was so horribly miserable I did not get that drunk again for several years. My dad’s guidance in the form of making sure I got the full benefit of the natural consequences of my choices were a very powerful lesson.

    We need more education, not legislation.