No one can stop binge-drinking students


No one can stop binge-drinking students (Seb Oliver/Getty Images)
It’s a phenomenon that most Indian parents are familiar with, across generations. It’s what made -and continues to make – Class 11 and 12 the worst years of a middle class teen’s life. In the US, it used to be different. Students had to appear for their SATs, and after that, they would find a college which offered courses they liked, or was affordable, or far from home – sometimes all of the above.

“Today, of course, all of that is different: Professional-class parents and their children are tightly bound to each other in the relentless pursuit of admission to a fancy college. A kid on that track can’t really separate from her parents, as their close involvement in this shared goal is essential. Replicating the social class across a generation is a joint project,” writes Caitlin Flanagan at The Atlantic. And along with this changed relationship comes two kinds of parenting regarding alcohol. Flanagan calls these two types ‘good parents’ and ‘get-real parents’. “Good Parents think that alcohol is dangerous for young people and that riotous drunkenness and its various consequences have nothing to recommend them… Get-Real Parents understand that learning to drink takes a while and often starts with a baptism of fire,” she writes.

But what both parents don’t realize is that students these days are exposed to extremes: extreme studying, extreme athletics, extreme extracurricular pursuits, and extreme drinking.

And while college kids have always been getting drunk, the volume of alcohol consumed has increased dramatically. “We don’t know. In 1994, Harvard’s College Alcohol Study established what is still the prevailing definition of a college binge: five or more drinks in a row for a man, and four or more for a woman. But while this measure may have been useful a quarter century ago, it’s essentially useless today, when bingers often have 10 or more drinks in a night,” writes Flanagan. The inference seems inescapable. Binge drinking is just how a hard pressed young adult deals with the rat race.