According to a recent study published in The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 34 percent of men and 24 percent of women, in a sample representative of college students, reported drinking 21 or more drinks on their 21st birthday. The study is the largest of its kind measuring the “21 at 21″ ritual among college students. According to the study, more than half of the men in the sample and one third of the women had alcohol levels of .26 or higher. At this level an individual can easily incur serious injury through impairment during activities, choking on vomit, or through risky behaviors. In fact, this ritual, which is meant to be celebratory, has claimed the lives of many. According to professor Kenneth Sher of the University of Missouri-Columbia, “I think a lot of people view this as a feel-good rite of passage and don’t calibrate what a big risk it is.” The following is an excerpt of an article from the New York Times that discusses the dangers of binge drinking:
The ritual of drinking 21 or more alcoholic beverages to celebrate the 21st birthday appears to be far more common than expected, according to new research.
It’s estimated that more than four out of every five American 21-year-olds drink alcohol to celebrate the birthday milestone, which is the the legal drinking age in the United States. But a new study from University of Missouri researchers of 2,518 students shows that many young adults aren’t just drinking to celebrate — they are drinking to extremes.
Among those students who drank alcohol to celebrate their 21st birthdays, 34 percent of the men and 24 percent of the women reported consuming 21 or more drinks, according to the research to be published in The Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology. The report is believed to be the largest study of the “21 at 21″ drinking ritual, which often involves shots of alcohol. The students in the study were followed for four years and asked a variety of questions about their drinking behavior over the course of their college years. Although the findings likely can’t be applied to the general population, the data likely reflect the drinking culture at large, public universities, researchers said.