March 19, 2005 — -- For many high school and college students, spring break is the mother of all parties. From Panama City, Fla., to Cancun, Mexico, young people say spring break means drinking, partying and "hooking-up."
As one college student celebrating spring break in Cancun said, "Basically you come down, hang out for a week, get wasted."
Dr. Drew Pinsky, an adolescent psychiatrist, calls spring break the "Super Bowl of hook-ups" and warns there are some potentially dangerous consequences of all this "fun," including sexually transmitted diseases and alcohol-related accidents and violence.
"The businesses are playing into this pathological behavior of the young people," said Pinsky. "They are giving them unlimited alcohol and access to rooms … so they can have sex together."
MTV and other popular media feed into the insatiable appetite of hard-partying spring breakers, Pinsky said. In an episode of MTV's show "Total Request Live" taped in Cancun over spring break, girls and boys in bathing suits danced under a 6-foot Margarita piñata.
"Print and TV glamourize spring break, glamourize the whole hook-up phenmenon and the sexual acting out," said Pinsky.
But behind the glamorous façade hide some dark and potentially dire consequences.
"We have unconstrained casual sexual contacts, increased risk of sexually transmitted disease," said Pinksy. "People [are] … using Ecstasy and other stimulants that are damaging to people."
Binge drinking is common, according to the Journal of American College Health -- 18 drinks a day for guys and 10 for girls.
In a survey released this week, the National Institutes of Health said alcohol-related assaults have hit 600,000 cases a year and alcohol-related deaths among college students have jumped by 13 percent.
Pinsky said parents and schools need to step in to educate students about these dangers, but some parents say all their warnings and advice can sometimes fall on deaf ears.