Alcohol is a choice with consequences

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    Alcohol abuse is still on the rise, despite efforts to curb the problem since the 1980s, according to an April 3 article from The Chronicle of Higher Education.

    The issue isn’t with the drinking itself, even though it can prove fatal with alcohol poisoning. The issue lies in the results of decisions made because of drinking.

    Forty-six percent of TCU students reported engaging in high-risk drinking in 2010, according to an e-mail from Yvonne Giovanis, associate director of the TCU Alcohol and Drug Education Center. That’s an increase from the 37 percent in 2002. High-risk drinking is defined as consuming five or more drinks in a single sitting.

    According to the College Alcohol Survey mentioned in the Chronicle article, colleges across the nation have reported a 10 percent increase in alcohol-involved acquaintance rape from 42 percent in 1994 to 52 percent in 2009.

    Violent behavior involving alcohol also has increased by 10 percent, from 48 percent in 1994 to 58 percent in 2009, according to the survey.

    The survey comes from 330 four-year institutions in the United States, and these colleges have been surveyed every three years since 1979 with a separate survey on heavy drinking from students themselves.

    This means that this is a national problem that needs to be addressed and countered.

    While in the past entire alcohol education weeks have taken place on campuses for support and resources, they’ve been phased out for the less invasive but obligatory campus restrictive policies, according to the article.

    Giovanis wrote that TCU has a “three-in-one” approach that addresses individual students, the student body as a whole and the greater college community. The ADE also hosts a variety of events that include topics such as impaired driving prevention, Safe Spring Break, Sexual Responsibility Week and Alcohol Screening Day, she wrote. The ADE also uses a peer education group through Frogs CARE.

    In terms of student punishments concerning alcohol, those who receive alcohol violations are required to complete 30 hours of community service or pay a fine of $150 for their first alcohol violation. For additional violations, an increase of hours and fines occur as well as contact to students parents, Giovanis wrote.

    When it comes to violence, vandalism or peer pressure with drinking, TCU has a zero-tolerance policy, as it should.

    According to abovetheinfluence.com, a movement devoted to drug education and prevention, the sooner people start to drink, the more likely they are to become addicted to alcohol at some point in their lives.

    If you’re making the investment in yourself to attend college and seek a higher education, then you should have the analytical skills necessary to not abuse alcohol.

    While it is illegal to consume alcohol before the age of 21 years old, there will always be students who choose to do so. This is a personal decision. But as with most personal decisions, the outcomes can have lasting and real effects on the surrounding people.

    Next time you reach for that next drink, you should ask yourself if the outcomes would be worth it.

    Bailey McGowan is a sophomore broadcast journalism major from Burkburnett.