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Binge Drinking Causing More Concern At Local Universities

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DURHAM, N.C. — The drink of choice Friday on Franklin Street in Chapel Hill was Frapuccinos. But on Thursday night, it's a different story at dorms and houses around the area.

In front of one house near the University of North Carolina and another near Duke University, beer cans, cups and cases were everywhere.

Studies show that the combination of sexual assaults, run-ins with police, and alcohol dependency is common on many college campuses across the country every year. It's estimated that 31 percent of college students met criteria to be diagnosed with alcohol abuse. A recent study found college students are more likely to binge drink than those who are not in school.

"I do think that some people take it too far," said UNC student Amanda McRoy. "Once you lose control of your body and mind, that's a little much."

"It plays out every single day on every college campus," says Duke professor Dr. Cynthia Kuhn.

Kuhn co-authored "Buzzed," a book on drug and alcohol abuse. She said binge drinking can make students feel accepted and less anxious in social settings. A recent study found it's most common among people in their 20s.

"It's a freedom thing - you're more social when you come to college, and you want to impress your friends," said UNC student Tyler Williams.

Kuhn said she's been urging Duke administrators for years to take excessive drinking among students seriously.

"They drink more in one sitting, and they drink in a dangerous way," said Kuhn. "I don't think Duke kids are unusual. It's a cultural pattern of drinking."

Kuhn believes Duke leaders are now committed to addressing alcohol abuse. Kuhn believes that is the silver lining in the Duke lacrosse case, and she hopes the case can have an impact on high-risk drinking nationwide.

"People don't understand you can drink enough in one sitting to die," she said.

Right now, Duke and nine other North Carolina universities are participating in a study on how to reduce the negative consequences of binge drinking


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