Binge drinking ‘huge’ problem, says Detroit Mercy prof


Hundreds of young adults under age 21 die every year because of alcohol consumption, a Detroit Mercy associate professor told students Sept. 11 in a seminar about the effects of alcohol and its use on the body.

“Binge drinking in our adolescent population is huge,” said Deb Knight, who teaches in the Physician Assistant Program and  hosted the seminar.

She covered some of the more disturbing details of underage drinking.

According to the seminar, people under 21 who consume alcohol are more likely to have learning and memory deficiencies and are more likely to severely damage their cerebral cortex.

And while it is true that alcohol has different effects on different people, whatever normal amount it would take an adult to experience the harshness of alcohol, it would take half of that amount for an underage person to experience the same thing, she noted.

It is common knowledge that alcohol impairs motor functions, specifically the ability to drive a car, something that Knight was adamant about when speaking.

“You can’t do two things at one time, let alone on alcohol, which slows our reaction time,” she said.

Knight was joined by Ken Gorney, a graduate of Detroit Mercy’s Physician Assistant Program who works for McLaren Health Systems in Lansing. The seminar attracted many of the college’s healthcare students

“This has to do with whatever field of medicine you choose to go into,” said Gorney.

The event was part of a Detroit Mercy community-outreach series.

Topics covered included what happens when alcohol enters the body, effects on the nervous system and steps that can be taken to avoid severe negative impacts all together.

The seminar touched on mental behavior, as well.

Alcohol abuse on college campuses continues to be a hot-button issue across the country.

A Center for Disease Control report estimated that between 2006 and 2010, 4,358 under age 21 died because of alcohol use.

In Michigan a .08 blood-alcohol level is the legal limit for driving.

But slower reaction time and blurry vision are said to occur at the .05 blood-alcohol level, prompting one student to ask why the legal limit shouldn’t be lowered.

Arizona is an example of a state where drivers can be convicted for driving under the influence if any level of alcohol is measured in the body.

Knight also dismissed claims that small amounts of alcohol can be beneficial.

While it has been found that low to moderate amounts of red wine can reduce the risk of heart disease, those same benefits can be found in other foods, she said.

Knight believes it is best to avoid drinking overall.