College Students' Drinking Behavior Holds Steady - WICU12 HD WSEE Erie, PA News, Sports, Weather, Events

College Students' Drinking Behavior Holds Steady

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"I would say yeah, probably everyone I know drinks," said Hunter Olsen, a student at Penn State Behrend.

It might sound stark, but data shows that drinking rates for college students - around 65 percent -  haven't changed much over the past 30 years, according to a 2013 report from the National Institute of Health. 

But this winter, the Erie community saw several alcohol-related deaths.

Abbie Brynda, a Gannon student, and David Hallman, a Cathedral Prep grad at an Ohio college, both died in February. They were both 21 years old.

Despite those incidences, an informal survey conducted on PSB's campus seems to indicate that it does little to change student drinking behavior.

"I don't think it triggers them at all to change, because people are going to go out, no matter what, to try and fit in. That's what they enjoy doing," said Lauren Smoulder, another PSB student.

"I think it hits you a little bit but it's not enough to change the way that you think," said Dustin Brant, student.

"Most people think they're invincible and can do anything when they're drinking," agreed Darren Olivio, student.

While the percentage of college drinkers have stayed mostly steady, the report says that "a large percentage of college students who do drink, do so to excess."

About 65 percent of all college students drink, but 40 percent of all college students are binge drinkers.

Student anecdotes seem to support the data.

"Honestly, when students go out, they just go and get totally incapacitated," said Jeromee Geibel,  PSB student.

"I'd say they pretty much always go out and binge drink. That's what people do," said Zachary Puhala, another student.

"Yeah, because everyone kind of looks forward to the weekend and so they just go all out with it. They don't usually just sit around and have one or two drinks," agreed Steve Spirk, who was walking to class with Puhala.

The NIH estimates that 1,800 college students die each year from alcohol-related incidences.

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