Nearly 2,000 college students die from alcohol-related causes each year, according to a recent report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
Irresponsible drinking is rampant among college campuses across the country as students leave home for the first time and away from the authority figures monitoring their behavior.
With the emergence of unofficial slogans such as “Win or lose, Cougs booze”, Washington State University has long been known as a “party school” and with that territory comes an abundance of alcohol-related hospitalizations.
Approximately 374 patients are seen in the Emergency Department at Pullman Regional Hospital annually for alcohol-related instances according to Dr. Pete Mikkelsen in a community newsletter.
Several WSU students were admitted to the hospital due to acute alcohol poisoning in one semester last year alone with various others receiving injuries from falls of rooftops and balconies while under the influence of alcohol.
In October 2012, WSU freshman Kenny Hummel, 18, was found unresponsive in a dorm room on campus.
Students administered CPR on the scene before the paramedics arrived but Hummel was later pronounced dead at Pullman Regional Hospital.
Members of Hummel’s family revealed that Kenny’s cause of death was a lethal concoction of caffeinated energy drinks and alcohol.
His blood alcohol level was .40, or five times the legal limit for driving in the state of Washington.
Energy drinks are popular among college-aged students looking for a boost to their academic performance but are also consumed with alcohol in order to stay alert and awake while partying.
The problem is that alcohol is a depressant while energy drinks serve as a stimulant. Feeling tired while drinking alcohol is the body’s natural defense and way of telling one to shut down at the end of the night.
When energy drinks enter the equation, it can lead to potentially life-threatening situations in which the caffeine masks the consumer’s sedation and causes them to continue drinking, past their body’s limit and into lethal levels of intoxication.
According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, 34% of 18- to 24-year-olds regularly consume energy drinks and 71% admitted to mixing them with alcohol on multiple occasions.
WSU junior Jessica Roller first learned about the dangers of mixing energy drinks with alcohol in 2010 after Washington State banned Four Loko, a highly-caffeinated alcoholic beverage sold in convenience stores.
Roller said she still enjoys energy drinks mixed with vodka from time to time.
“I make sure to monitor how much of them I am drinking,” said Roller.
“Life is short and everything comes attached with risks these days.”
Sophomore Scott Wolf feels that the risks of consuming energy drinks with alcohol are not great enough for him to lose sleep over.
“I’m well aware of the potential health effects but I feel I am pretty careful with how much I drink,” said Wolf.
“I worry more for those of my classmates that I see consuming multiple energy drinks with alcohol every night as if its no big deal.”
Although pricey, averaging around $3-4 a can, the accessibility and exposure of energy drinks on college campuses only contributes to the growing problem and number of instances of overindulgence.
Numerous brands and varieties can be found at the Bookie, in vending machines, and are even given out and promoted by companies on school grounds.
Despite the appeal to party longer, sophomore Gabe Abram does not feel the need to cave in to peer pressure regarding the simultaneous consumption of caffeine and alcohol.
“I choose not to drink alcohol with energy drinks because I know not to mix stimulants and depressants,” said Abram.
“Seeing as though I am naturally hyper and energetic, I don’t really see a need for energy drinks when I’m partying.”
Junior Cordes Crawford, estimates he pours himself a glass or two of Crown Royal whiskey mixed with Monster energy drink about two times a month and didn’t need anyone to tell him about the risks involved.
“I went out on a limb and made an assumption that two things that are bad for you do not get better when they are combined,” said Crawford.
“It doesn’t bother me because short term rewards outweigh the long term risks in my opinion.”
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Narration: Nearly 2,000 college students die from alcohol-related causes each year, according to a recent report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
A recent poll by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed that 71% of college students engage in the mixing of energy drinks with alcohol in order to party longer.
In October 2012, the tragic death of 18-year old Kenny Hummel, a freshman at WSU brought to light the dangers of this very practice.
Hummel death was caused by a lethal concoction of caffeinated beverages and hard liquor. He died with a blood alcohol level of .40, fives times the legal limit in Washington.
Students need to be aware that combining stimulants such as energy drinks with depressants such as alcohol can have lethal consequences.
The caffeine in energy drinks keeps you awake and alert, bypassing your body’s natural reaction to make you tired after you’ve had enough alcohol.
This leads to college students drinking far more than they can take.
“Its a stimulant and a depressant in one so if you put them both together, its an accident waiting to happen. Red Bull doesn’t give you wings but it does get you hyphy, crunk, whatever you want to call it.”
“Energy drinks give me enough caffeine to get me through the night and party.”
“I am pretty careful about how much I drink and how often. I’m not too worried about it now but I would be if I started doing it more often.”
“Although pricey, averaging around $3-4 a can, the accessibility and exposure of energy drinks on college campuses only contributes to the growing problem and number of instances of overindulgence.
Numerous brands and varieties can be found at the Bookie, in vending machines, and are even given out and promoted by companies on school grounds.”