College, a social gathering ground, is a time for young adults to explore new aspects of life. It is a time of freedom and responsibility, but it can also be a time for mistakes.

Students often find themselves drinking alcohol as a release from the tension of maintaining a job, an acceptable GPA and not to mention completing schoolwork due the following week.

So the weekend rolls around and students are pumped to get to parties and forget about their academic activities for a moment.

All around there is alcohol – the “irresistible liquid courage” that guises itself as one’s friend. One too many drinks, however, can lead to some regrets.

According to the Education, Training and Research Association (ETR), a non-profit, private organization that promotes and encourages the well-being of children and young adults, binge drinking is when a person drinks a lot of alcohol in a short amount of time and reaches a very high blood alcohol level.

Studies from the American Council for Drug Education (ACDE), an organization that helps prevent college students from abusing alcohol and drugs, showed that 60 percent of college students who are infected with STDs, including genital herpes and AIDS, reported that they had been under the influence of alcohol at the time they had sexual intercourse with the infected person.

Katie Jackson, a Plattsburgh State English major, has abstained from drinking alcohol altogether.

“College is a time to explore your sexuality and drinking habits,” Jackson said. “It (drinking) lowers your inhibitions and makes you do things you would later regret.”

She also said that drinking games mask how much alcohol a person really consumes.

“I have not been drinking since this school year because it’s not about drinking to have fun,” Jackson said. “It’s about being comfortable with who you’re with and having fun with them. You can still have fun and not drink.”

ACDE also stated that as much as 70 percent of college students admit to having engaged in sexual activity primarily as a result of being under the influence of alcohol. The students also admitted to having sex they wouldn’t have had if they were sober.

“I was drunk when I lost my virginity in my senior year of high school,” Nick Mannino, a PSUC English education major said.

Mannino said his judgment was impaired, but he doesn’t regret what happened.

“Our generation is open to experiments and we make mistakes, but mistakes help you learn in life,” he said.

The Core Institute, an organization that surveys college drinking habits, stated that at least one out of five college students have abandoned safe sex practices when they were drunk.

PSUC student Amanda Fio Rito said she experienced an embarrassing moment while drinking.

“I got so drunk one night that my friends had to tell me what I did,” she said. “Although I was embarrassed about that night and I had no control over it. I deem this as a learning experience.”

Jerimy Blowers, director of Health Education Services at PSUC, is adamant about helping students become aware of the dangers of alcohol.

“Alcohol is deeply rooted in our American culture and is accepted in society, despite the fact that alcohol is the most dangerous drug in widespread use,” he said. “Problems arise when people do not see alcohol as a powerful drug, and use it in irresponsible ways that bring harm to one’s self or others.”

Blowers said he believes this fact remains indelible here at PSUC among students. He said that “excess drinking dramatically reduces the cognitive skills in making important decisions.”

He advises students to make plans before going out to limit alcohol consumption, use the buddy system and always practice safe sex regardless of the situation.

Anyone with concerns about binge drinking, alcoholism or other types of drug abuse can stop by the Health Center and make an appointment with Jennifer Sanborn, Plattsburgh State’s Alcohol and Other Drug Coordinator. (518) 564-5090.