Spring Break Carries Alcohol Dangers

Ruzanna Harutyunyan's picture
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It's March - which means spring break for many Iowa colleges. For some students, spring break means time to catch up with friends back home; for others, a week of volunteer work may be planned.

For many, spring break is characterized by the headlines and descriptions many travel companies feature on their Web sites: "parties will be raging," "lie peacefully in the sun, drink in hand of course," "work on your tan until you can hit the clubs," and "they even allow kegs on the beach!"

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Spring break is often an excuse for students to drink in excess. "One study of spring break drinking patterns found the average man reported drinking 18 alcoholic beverages per day; the average woman reported having ten," said Iowa Dept. of Public Health (IDPH) Behavioral Health Division Director Kathy Stone. "The physical effects of binge drinking range from hangovers, to death from alcohol poisoning."

Alcohol can cause changes in the structure and function of the developing brain - a critical problem for college students, since the brain continues to develop into the mid-20s.

Binge drinking often leads to risky sex. A study by the American Medical Association found that 74 percent of students surveyed said sexual activity increases on spring break. In addition, nearly 60 percent of those questioned knew friends who had unprotected sex while on spring break. It is not uncommon to see a spike in the number of STD tests in May. The positive tests may be an indication the tests were requested because of risky behaviors engaged in during spring break.

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