Can Vt. college students take the lead to cut binge drinking? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Can Vt. college students take the lead to cut binge drinking?

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Dangerous drinking hit home with Johnson State College student Dallas DeBlois.

"I'm here because I lost a friend to alcohol before," DeBlois said.

Tuesday, DeBlois joined students and staff from colleges across Vermont and folks from the Vermont Health Department to tackle binge drinking on campuses around the state.

"There's no way we are going to eliminate college drinking. We all know that college students will drink, but what we want to do is do it in a more responsible way," said Dr. Harry Chen, the Vermont Health Commissioner.

The daylong workshop was focused on sharing best practices. Strategies considered effective included DUI checkpoints for students and regular patrols of college parties to make sure things don't get out of hand.

"If there's someone there watching you, then you're more aware of what you're doing," DeBlois said.

Medical amnesty for students reporting or in need of immediate attention for drinking-related problems was also discussed as an option.

What's not working, students say, are lectures from administration.

"If you tell someone no, no, no, they want it more, they want to do it more," said Stephanie Jangraw, a student at Johnson State College.

The health department says Vermont ranks in the top 10 percent of states when it comes to troubles with binge drinking, and shares stats that show 53 percent of college students having direct experience with the risky behavior.

Chen says addressing campus culture is also key.

"Are we making it too easy too supportive for students to drink and use other substances," Chen said.

DeBlois argues striking an appropriate balance could work best, and simply trying to scare students is not the answer.

"Drinking itself isn't bad, but it can be excessive, and you need to do it responsibly," she said.

College students also stressed that social media is proving to be an effective tool to reach students and create conversation over binge drinking dangers.

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