ERIKA DITZMAN | OPINION COLUMNIST
Trigger Warning: Read with caution. This article addresses the harmful effects of alcohol usage. If you or anyone you know has struggled with substance abuse, this may inflict emotional harm. Thank you.
The United States of America restricts drinking for young men and women beneath the age of 21, with the strongest drinking regulations and the highest minimum drinking age in the world. Penalties such as license revocation or extensive fines occur as a result of violation. Nonetheless, alcohol is the most widely abused substance and greatest risk to public health.
American culture has often depicted college drinking as a commonality and right of passage. Students neglect countless papers and exams to find their place within the new community. They are following a dangerous path, especially for those who are underage. Approximately 80 percent of students drink during their secondary education. Excessive college drinking often leads to a multitude of problems, negatively affecting educational progress, and must therefore be prevented.
Alcohol as a depressant slows down bodily functions, resulting in cognitive effects such as slurred speech, lack of memory, dizziness, loss of depth perception and decreased judgement.
Decreased judgement and memory loss may very well lead to equally, if not more, negative choices such as promiscuous sexual activity and further substance abuse. Alcohol coupled with drugs, often of unknown nature in a social setting, may create further effects. In this dangerous combination, death may result.
Although these effects are primarily short term, they may create long-term educationational, financial and emotional deficiencies for teens and young adults later in adulthood. The hazy memory and potential hangover the next day may prevent performance in the classroom or attendance to lecture at all, pushing students behind in their academics and therefore inhibiting future goals.
If caught consuming alcohol underage at St. Norbert College, consequences up to immediate dismissal will be considered (not automatically realized). If dismissed, the student will have an intangible mark on the his or her academic and personal record. Lack of education prevents a sustainable occupation, often creating financial hardship in the near future.
This monetary burden may also be triggered by the outcome of sexual intercourse, in which pregnancy is a very real possibility without the proper precautions. Lack of judgement created by alcohol consumption often disregards this precaution. Sixty-one percent of community college students who have children drop out before their degree is attained.
Unbelievably, most unexpected pregnancies are to unmarried women between 20 to 30 years of age, the peak of their post-secondary education. Becoming a parent at this age, often without steady income, women are forced leave from school with a difficult life for both parent and child as they scrounge for money to afford required expenses.
In addition, sex is never truly consensual while under the influence of alcohol. Judgement is severely skewed. Alcohol is the primary date rape drug for both men and women. Approximately 97,000 students from 18 to 24 years of age are victims of this narcotic.
Those who undergo forced sexual conduct may be subject to emotional trauma including severe anxiety, depression and PTSD, or posttraumatic stress disorder. These conditions are ongoing throughout the majority of their life, providing a constant memory of the moments their self-ownership was violated.
An excessive consumption of alcohol opens the door for further tragedy to occur, creating a dangerous situation that causes numerous negative long-term effects. Underage alcohol is not only illegal by law, but potentially punishable by emotional or physical pain, including alcohol poisoning or even death.
These statistics are often neglected, students believing they are invincible and not recognizing their own mortality. If you do decide to drink, please become aware of the potential ramifications and view the St. Norbert College alcohol policies for more information. Do not be afraid to speak to a counselor for assistance in Health and Wellness Services. Exercise caution. Your life is at risk.