ANNAPOLIS, Md (NNS) -- Naval Academy midshipmen, Army cadets and civilian students gathered at the Naval Academy Feb. 25-26 to participate in a two-day conference aimed to promote responsible alcohol consumption among college students.
The event brought speakers from various educational institutions in Maryland to address challenges and the importance of empowering young people to change the alcohol environment.
"Drinking among young people, specifically the college-age population, is a big problem that causes 5,000 deaths a year," said David Jernigan, associate professor at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and the Director of the Center on Alcohol Marketing and Youth. "It is not about dependence or drinking and driving, it is a whole range of problems that alcohol can cause, including poor academic performance, disciplinary actions, falls, drowning, assault and suicide."
According to Jernigan, there are several things that can be done to promote responsible alcohol environments, however the first and most important thing to do is focus on the individual and their interaction with the larger environment in which they make choices.
"When it comes to environment, it is useful to think in terms of four areas of activity - alcohol products, prices, promotion and the places that serve alcohol," said Jernigan. "If we can address those, we can create a more supportive environment for healthy behaviors. For the midshipmen, it is easier to make good decisions if the environment is supportive of your decisions."
In addition to working with individuals in good decision making, partnering is definitely a must when addressing problems of college-age drinking.
Colleges can't solve the problem by themselves, said Jernigan. "They must partner up and work together to help bring about a healthier environment."
Other topics such as sexual assault, alcohol poisoning, drunk driving, and the Navy's policy on alcohol were addressed at the conference - scheduled as spring break is rapidly approaching.
"This conference gives midshipmen a lot of insight on what environmental factors play into the big social alcohol scene and the type of things that we can do to promote responsible alcohol use," said Midshipman 2nd Class Sabrina Reyes. "It is surprising that there are a lot of factors that we never considered, such as promotion and prices. This can help midshipmen think twice about their actions and understand that you can have fun without having to drink."
For more news from U.S. Naval Academy, visit www.navy.mil/local/usna/.