Binge Drinking dominates the Wilkes-Barre Area

Devoni Novak, Assistant News Editor

Although a telephone survey done by The Center for Disease Control in 2010 showed the Wilkes-Barre, Scranton area to rank among the top five areas in the country for binge drinking, few believe it is a significant problem to Wilkes University students.
Public Safety officer Phil Miller suggested that although binge drinking undoubtedly happens here at Wilkes, it’s not an extreme problem in comparison to other schools he’s worked at.
“I see it as a problem on most general college campuses,” Miller said. “In my years here I don’t feel that it’s necessarily out of control compared to other colleges; I’d say it’s probably about average.”

College students in particular are stereotyped to take part in excessive alcohol consumption. Miller proposed that drinking is popular among students because college is a time for experimentation and peer influence plays a huge role as well. He feels it’s a cultural norm for students to drink when they get to college and that it’s an expected part of the college life style.

Miller said that students try to keep up with each other and impress one another with how much they can consume, which in turn leads to binge drinking.

To prevent students from binge drinking, Public Safety offers alcohol education programs throughout the year in conjunction with Residence Life, Student Affairs and Health Services. Miller believes it is important thing to broadcast information on drinking and get students to think about the consequences before they go out.

Miller wishes students took advantage of the escort service offered by Public Safety. He suggested that it’s safer for students to call for assistance than try to walk home under the influence. Many students don’t know about the service or are afraid to call because they don’t want to get themselves or party hosts in trouble.  Miller stressed that the service is offered for the protection of Wilkes students and Public Safety’s only concern is getting students home safely.

“I think it’s the best service that Public Safety offers,” Miller said. “It’s different when you (see) someone you know who has been drinking and you can tell that they can’t operate on their own without a great deal of assistance; that’s when we make an additional call for medical assistance.”

President of Student Affairs Paul Adams said a survey done last year showed only 19 percent of the freshman class admitted to binge drinking, compared to a national average of 33 percent. Adams is proud to say that Wilkes does not share the negative profile of other schools when it comes to binge drinking; however, he admits it does happen here at Wilkes.

The CDC study found that the most frequent binge drinkers were those over 65 with high incomes. Adams suggested that the reason Wilkes-Barre and Scranton ranked so highly in the nation is because of the heritage of the area’s coal miners.

“I’m not an anthropologist but it certainly can make sense to me, if you look at the national study that talks about the most frequent binge drinkers being over 60,” Adams said.

Adams believes binge drinking can have a negative effect on the academic performance of students, although he feels there is a healthy balance. He thinks that many students drink responsibly and still perform well in their classes.

“There’s a perception that students drink more than they really do,” Adams said. “Wilkes actually has more students self-report that they’ve never drank than the national data.”

According to associate pharmacy professor Dan McCune, moderate drinking (one or two drinks a day) is good for one’s heart health and cholesterol, which may lead to a decrease in the risk of stroke and heart attack. However, drinking in excessive amounts could have a reverse effect on the blood’s lipids and make an individual more prone to these illnesses.

McCune stated that prolonged binge drinking can have many negative effects on the body. Cancer can develop in any of the organs that come into contact with alcohol if consumption is constantly excessive.

High rates of alcohol consumption can also break down your muscle mass. Long-term memory loss can result as well. Allegedly, people may suffer from alcohol dementia, which studies show can possibly lead to Alzheimer’s disease.

Contrary to popular belief, beer and wine have the same strain on the liver as hard liquor. McCune suggested that the effect on the liver all depends on the alcohol content,  varies depending on how much one consumes. For example, one beer is equivalent to one shot of hard liquor.

Another common myth is that alcohol makes you warmer. In reality, alcohol lowers the body’s temperature by dilating the peripheral blood vessels and causing the blood to travel to the service of the skin. People become flushed and feel warmer although their body temperature is actually low.

Depending on one’s body weight, gender and personal tolerance level, the amount of alcohol each individual can handle varies. McCune believes that someone who consumes on a regular basis builds a tolerance that increases their body’s ability to metabolize the alcohol. For example, two men of the same weight may consume the same amount but depending on tolerance, effects differ. To see the statistics on binge drinking, visit