"We drink all day, take a nap, then drink all night. Then you sleep five
hours or so, get up
at 11, drink 'til 6 or 7, pass out, wake up at 9 and go out at 10."
in Cancun (www.canoe.ca/CNEWS
Alcohol and Spring Break
"It is common knowledge. It has a reputation....The bartenders just shoot stuff at you and
you don't even know what it is. It's all about blacking out." 19-year-old spring-breaker in
Spring is nearly upon us. And while many of us long for signs of spring --
flowers, a warmer sun--and fantasize
about vacationing in sunny climes with gentle ocean waves breaking on the beach, many college and some
high school students around the country make spring break pilgrimages to Florida, Cancun,
elsewhere. Warmer temperatures and blue waters are a lure, but also, as one travel agency web site
advertises it, "Outstanding parties, beaches, cheap booze and beer."
MTV is once again hosting a Spring Break party in Cancun Mexico, offering "Beaches, bikinis, bands and
babes galore.." 80,000 students on Spring Break are expected to show up in Cancun where the focus is on
partying, drinking to the point of collapse, and sex. One travel web site ( http://www.studentadvtrav.com/ )
notes that in Mexico the legal drinking age is 18, but "rarely enforced."
One study of the drinking patterns of students on spring break found that:
The average man reported drinking 18 drinks per day ;
The average woman reported drinking 10 drinks per day (May 1998 Journal of American College Health.)
Of the 442 women and 341 men that were surveyed, more than 50 percent of all men and more than 40 percent of all women drank until they became sick or passed out at least once.
40% of the men and 33% or the women reported being drunk daily.
In addition, another study of college drinkers on campus found that among frequent binge drinkers (those men
who consume more than 5 drinks and women who consume more than 4):
49.7% engaged in unplanned sex
52.3% engaged in unprotected sex
58.4% had trouble with the police
58.9% were injured.
(Weschsler, Henry. et al College Alcohol Use: a Full or Empty Glass? J of Amer
Health v.47 n6 (May 1999):247)
Clearly, spring break is a dangerous period for young people. The U.S. Department of State says, "Alcohol is
involved in the vast majority of arrests, accidents, violent crimes and deaths suffered by American tourists in
Cancun." (US Dept of State fact sheet: Spring Break in Cancun).
In Cancun, spring break students are covered with Corona temporary body tattoos, and men dance on the
dance floor alongside waitresses clothed in skin tight yellow outfits plastered with the Corona name. As
reported on air May 9, 2001, INSIDE EDITION investigated spring break in Cancun and, "witnessed a
free-for-all during spring break... U.S. beer and liquor companies were out in force, employing bikini-clad
models to pass out T-shirts, hats, buttons and more." (http://www.insideedition.com/investigative/kid_booze.htm)
Inside Edition also reports, "While in Mexico, the INSIDE EDITION cameras
saw teams of marketers pushing Bacardi Rum on thousands of college and high-school kids, literally pouring the product down their throats, for free.
Young people were given souvenirs and invited to climb into a shower to have Bacardi rum and coke poured into their mouths from a showerhead.
Bacardi also sponsored a "booze cruise" where they shuttled the young revelers from bar to bar, supplying free drinks to anyone who wanted them. According to the young people INSIDE EDITION interviewed, ID's were never checked. One high school visitor from Chicago told INSIDE, "Don't got to spend no money. They give us some free stuff and they get us hooked on Bacardi for life."
The alcohol industry and corporations like MTV should be held accountable for promoting
alcohol-related dangerous behaviors among students, which dramatically
increase young people's risk of injury, sexual assault and other violence,
exposure to sexually transmitted diseases, and,
perhaps, a life-shattering addiction. For young people, binge drinking during Spring
Break might be more than a break from work and winter's gloom. It just might end up breaking them.
Spring Break Kicks Off in Cancun
Spring brake: Doctors group hopes to curb some of the excesses during the booze-and sex-fueled college rite (SF Chron)
Spring Break Drinking Ads Alarm Parents: AMA Poll
Spring break in Cancun: beaches, alcohol, parties.
American Medical Association
"National initiative provides healthy alternatives for college students"
U.S. Department of State, Office of the Spokesman
Fact Sheet: Spring Break in Cancun
Selected Prevention Links
Center for Science in the Public Interest --Booze News
The Marin Institute
Higher Education Center
Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD)
National Clerainghouse for Alcohol and Drug Abuse Information
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
SAMHSA The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Admin
Trauma Foundation Alcohol Related Injury & Violence Pages
Alcohol Industry Links
Captain Morgan Rum