Dying to Drink by Henry Wechsler
Confronting Binge Drinking on College Campuses

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College binge drinking is more of an issue than ever. In recent years the alcohol industry has stepped up its efforts to convince students, school administrators, and health officials that the problem isn't really so bad. Yet the fact is that at least two out of every five U.S. college students regularly binge drink, resulting each year in approximately fourteen hundred student deaths, a distressing number of assaults and rapes, a shameful amount of vandalism, and countless cases of academic suicide.

In Dying to Drink, Harvard researcher Henry Wechsler, Ph.D., and science writer Bernice Wuethrich take stock of the problem. Citing surprising statistics from his series of College Alcohol Studies (CAS), the most recent of which was conducted in 2001, Dr. Wechsler warns that drinking on campus is taking a bigger toll than most of us realize. And it's not just the students themselves who pay: One estimate puts the cost of underage drinking at around $53 billion a year, including $18 billion associated with traffic crashes that threaten the general public--about 57 percent of frequent binge drinkers and 40 percent of occasional binge drinkers admit getting behind the wheel after drinking. Is this a price we're willing to pay for a teenager's drunken "fun"?

Perhaps more chilling even than the cold facts and figures are the personal confessions gathered from Dr. Wechsler's survey and Wuethrich's independent interviews. A frat brother who regularly drinks until he blacks out recounts how, if not why, he does it; a non-binge drinker tells about the secondhand effects of alcohol that he's suffered at the hands of inebriated roommates; and on- and off-campus partygoers describe the sometimes dangerous conditions encountered in college environments where heavy drinking is encouraged, especially at fraternity houses, sporting events, and university bars.

But Dying to Drink doesn't just aim to scare--the authors care about solving the problem. Along with a Resources section that points readers to the best organizations to team up with, the final fourth of the book lists specific ways that we all can take action against the binge drinking menace that hobbles higher education in this country.

About Henry Wechsler

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Henry Wechsler, Ph. D., is the director of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Studies program and a lecturer in the school's Department of Health and Social Behavior. He conducted his first national survey of college binge drinking in 1993 and has updated the study three more times since then. Dr. Wechsler is the author of seventeen books and monographs and more than 150 articles in professional journals on alcohol abuse and other high-risk behaviors. He has received awards from the American College Health Association and the American Public Health Association for his research.Bernice Wuethrich is a science writer whose work has appeared in Discover, Smithsonian, Science, International Wildlife, and New Scientist magazines and in exhibitions at the Smithsonian's National Museum of Natural History.
Published August 17, 2002 by Rodale Books. 320 pages
Genres: Health, Fitness & Dieting, Political & Social Sciences, Self Help, Education & Reference, Professional & Technical, Parenting & Relationships. Non-fiction

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Drawing on interviews with and questionnaires collected from 50,000 students at 140 four-year colleges as part of the recent Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Studies, Wechsler, director of the study, and science writer Wuethrich offer a sobering overview of underage drinking.

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