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College Alcohol Abuse: Facts and Findings

College alcohol abuse or alcoholism has and continues to be an ongoing problem with college students. For starters, new college students are dealing with new surroundings, adapting to college-related stress of assignments, balancing work and college, and being away from friends and family. In other cases, the temptation to party, “go wild,” and drink are ever-present. The lack of parental supervision, and new-found freedom and access to drugs and alcohol can create a tempting atmosphere to experiment. Roughly “54% of college students between 18 and 22 drank alcohol in one month,”  1 in 3 practiced binge drinking. 20% of college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.

Some studies indicate some college students have a previous history of drinking and increase their drinking by the time they are in school. Experimenting with a few drinks in college is a common occurrence. However, it poses many risks as students are building their academic portfolio, creating new relationships with school mates, and becoming exposed to habits that can follow them into adulthood. Furthermore, he or she could sacrifice good academic standing if under the influence of a alcohol. College students under the influence of alcohol are also more likely to suffer a number of serious consequences, including arrest, traffic accidents, alcohol poisoning, and all forms of assault.

College Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as having 4 or more drinks in under two hours for women, and 5 or more drinks in under two hours for men. Typically, a drink is:

  • A 12-oz beer
  • A 5 oz glass of wine
  • A 1.5 shot of spirits

Binge drinking is dangerous, as it encourages reckless drinking, and pushes people’s drinking limits to unhealthy levels. Additionally, binge drinking over time can encourage someone to develop a higher tolerance.

A 2018 survey indicated roughly 4.3 million people ages 12 to 20 reported binge drinking in 1 month. Moreover, “54.9% of full-time college students between 18 and 22 drank alcohol in the past month, compared to 44.6% of people the same age.” In 2018, there was a reported 36.9% of college students between 18 and 22 who engaged in binge drinking in 2018, which was an increase of nearly 10% more than the previous year. Freshmen are more vulnerable to binge drinking and being exploited as they are “new” on campus and sometimes, unprepared to deal with peer pressure.

Short And Long-Term Effects Of College Binge Or Heavy Drinking

College binge drinking usually produces behavioral problems that can endanger the self or others involved. Additionally, alcohol-related health risks are common. The most common reported effects of college binge or heavy drinking are, but are not limited to:

  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Sexual assault
  • Poor memory retention
  • Missing classes
  • Low grades
  • Unintended harm to self
  • Dehydration
  • Blacking out
  • Unintended harm to others
  • Feeling hung over
  • Vomiting or nausea

Effects of binge of long-term binge drinking include, but are not limited to:

  • Brain damage
  • Coma
  • High blood pressure
  • Death
  • Kidney damage
  • Infertility problems
  • Stroke
  • Alcohol withdrawal symptoms
  • Liver disease
  • Cancer

In most cases, binge drinkers are not dependent on alcohol; however, a dependence can develop if someone continues to binge drink and develops an alcohol tolerance. The effects of alcoholism can vary based on the amount consumed, or if other chemicals are involved. Generally, developing a drinking problem in college can set the tone for someone to continue to drink into mid and late adulthood.

Victimization Of College Students And Alcoholism

Drinking can occur in an attempt to mask a mental illness. It can also increase based on someone’s life experience and contribute to injuries, broken relationships, and trauma. Both sexual and physical assault are common tragic experience affecting college students, and alcohol is often part of it. Approximately 696,000 students aged 18 to 24 have been assaulted by another student who was drinking.

Sadly, 97,000 college students between 18 to 24 years of age experience date rape or an alcohol-related sexual assault. Other challenges and dangers that can emerge from alcohol use on college campuses which can victimize someone include driving under the influence of alcohol, unprotected sex, unwanted pregnancies, blacking out, and embarrassing behavior. In response, some college campuses have meetings spreading awareness of the problem.

Medication And Age-Specific Treatment For College Students

Binge drinking, alcohol use disorders, and heavy drinking plague some college students. If you find yourself unable to stop drinking, getting drunk and disorderly; suffering academic failure due to alcoholism, combining alcohol with other substances, becoming isolated from friends and loved ones to use alcohol, or suffering withdrawal, these are signs you need help. It is not advised to quit cold turkey alone. Detox in a medical facility is best as it restores the mind and body to its pre-alcohol state.

Entering treatment is one of the best options as colleges students are given medication and support to thrive.

Take Action And Empower Your Future

Alcohol is the most widely abused drug by college students. Unfortunately, 14.4 million adults in the United States over the age of 18 battle an alcohol use disorder. The breakdown included 9.2 million men and 5.3 million women. Tragically, only 7.9% received treatment for their alcohol use disorders. Don’t be a statistic. Contact a treatment provider to explore treatment options. You can get your life back on track. Call today.