Health Dangers during Spring Break

Spring break can be the ultimate vacation for many high school and college students. Never-ending celebrations infused with sun, sand and surf are wildly popular with many young adults. But dangerous activities like binge drinking, risky sex and taking drugs can bring the party to a screeching halt.

Binge Drinking
According for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, binge drinking is defined as consuming five or more alcoholic drinks within two hours for males and four or more drinks in the same time frame for females. Studies show that during the week of spring break, on average, males will drink 12 gallons of alcohol each and females will drink 6.5 gallons.

“The problem is that kids, at that age, oftentimes don’t know when to say when,” E.R. physician Dr. Travis Stork says.

Dr. Janet Taylor, psychiatrist and medical contributor to, says the problem stems from expectations formed in high school.

“Our students are going to college not only expecting to drink, but expecting to drink a lot,” she says. “When you go in with any expectation of drinking, you increase consumption, and the likelihood is more that you will binge drink.”

Excess and binge drinking in a short period of time can lead to alcohol poisoning and death.

Sun Safety

Learn how to protect your skin and prevent cancer with essential tips from the Skin Cancer Foundation.

Signs of Alcohol Poisoning
• Unconsciousness
• Vomiting
• Slow or irregular breathing
• Cold or clammy skin
• Blue lips
• Low body temperature
• Seizures

If you see anyone experiencing these symptoms, call 911 immediately. 

Sexually Transmitted Diseases
Three out of five teens will have unprotected sex during spring break, many of them with multiple partners. Such dangerous behavior greatly increases the risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which can have dire consequences. STD infection can also severely impact a woman’s future fertility and have long-lasting effects on the body.

“There are so many consequences [to unprotected sex] for both men and women for sexually transmitted disease contraction,” OB/GYN Dr. Lisa Masterson says. “You can contract everything from HIV to hepatitis, syphilis, herpes, Chlamydia, gonorrhea, etc. You can contract these vaginally, orally and anally.”

Learn more about sexually transmitted diseases

Date Rape Drugs
A growing number of women will fall prey to date rape drugs such as GHB and Rohypnol, commonly known as roofies, which are odorless and tasteless and come in both clear liquid and powder form. Sexual predators slip the drugs into an unsuspecting victim’s drink, wait for them to take effect and then take advantage of or rape the person.

Symptoms of Date Rape Drugs
• Advanced relaxation
• Nausea
• Vomiting
• Loss of muscle control
• Difficulty breathing
• Amnesia

Prevent Being Drugged
• Don’t leave drinks unattended
• Don’t accept drinks from a stranger
• Watch out for one another
• Don’t go off alone
• Don’t let your friends go off alone
• Be vigilant of people and your surroundings 

Drugs Abroad
Residents of the Unite States spend more than $1 billion in Mexican pharmacies every year. Mexico has less stringent regulations for prescription drugs than the United States and many of them are sold over-the-counter. This practice has prompted concern from U.S. experts, who caution that drugs not under the purview of the FDA may not be what they purport to be. They may be counterfeit or contain dangerous ingredients. 

Spring Break Tragedy
New Yorker Brittanee Drexel, now 18, went missing during a spring break trip to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina in May, 2009. Brittanee’s mother, Dawn, did not give her daughter permission to go on the trip, but the teen went anyway. She was last seen on a video image from the Ben Harbor Hotel surveillance camera.

“Nobody ever thinks that this will happen to their child, but it does,” Dawn says. “Every 40 seconds, a child goes missing. There are a lot of predators out there and sex trafficking, and a lot of people aren’t aware of it. It’s become such an epidemic.”

To learn more about Brittanee Drexel's case, visit If you have any information concerning her whereabouts, please contact: CUE Center at (910)-232-1687 or AMBER Ready at (973)-506-6010. 

Spring Break Safety Tips
• Pick a meeting spot with friends in case you get separated
• Plan your transportation in advance, so you’re not looking for rides at the last minute
• Keep emergency contact information about yourself with you at all times
• Trust your instincts: if something doesn’t feel right, honor those feelings
• Check in with your family
• If in trouble, don’t hesitate to call your parents or the police
• Never walk or go anywhere alone