Be aware of the consequences for irresponsible alcohol use

By Chad Reese

By the time you read this column, a few of you will have already learned its lessons the hard way.

Hopefully, this means nothing more than a splitting headache and some mild concern as you unsuccessfully try to piece together the previous evening. For others, however, you may be all too familiar with the gut-wrenching loss of a friend or a criminal record at far too young an age.

Despite the potential for these life-altering consequences, alcohol and some UK students seem tragically bound to one another. The fact that this school year (as of the time this column was written) has not yet had to suffer the loss of one of its students makes it unique among the last several years.

The problem is at once painfully simple and bitterly ignored – it can’t happen to me.

This mantra, adopted by countless underage drinkers, blurs the line between an enjoyable, responsible night of partying, and waking up the next morning in jail. Couple the seemingly glamorous life of exciting college parties with a denial of real-world consequences, and it should be no surprise that 600,000 college students were assaulted, and nearly 2,000 students were killed by alcohol related accidents in 2001 alone, according to a 2005 National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism news release.

Still, this columnist has been around college life long enough to realize that statistics don’t frighten younger students away from having one too many drinks. I could go on and on about the potential for serious and life-threatening illnesses as a result of underage and irresponsible drinking, all to no avail. On some level, it might even seem like a joke that a college student is actively concerned about drinking among his peers.

In fact, if it weren’t for the tragic loss of young life that came as a result of this problem, it might even be amusing that some of this nation’s brightest young people who attend a university to commit themselves to several years of higher education have yet to learn responsibility.

I’d almost laugh that the enterprising young business major who might be only six years away from a seven-figure income and an executive position in a major corporation chose to throw it all away because he wanted to look “cool” in front of his buddies.

It might be hilarious, after a fashion, that the bright, young marketing student ruined her career and killed a family of four after deciding she was sober enough to drive.

It is not, however, funny in any way that almost five college students die every day because of alcohol. Nothing is humorous about the irrevocable loss of life as a young person, full of potential, throws away their future.

The worst part of all of this? There is absolutely no reason to drink irresponsibly. I personally assure you that this campus and town have plenty of safe ways for you to have a good time on Thursday nights without jeopardizing your future.

So the next time you’re at a party and someone hands you just “one more” shot, take a long minute and consider if it’s worth it.