When experts report that college students drink more alcohol than the rest of the entire population, these experts are not joking. In 2015 alone, 58% of college students drank in the past month compared to 48% of others in their same age group and 37% of college students engaged in binge-drinking compared to 32% of non-college students. Alcohol has also been reported to impair academic success, increase rates of assaults on campus to 696,000 college students, and has led to 80,000 deaths from drinking too much. Think about these numbers for a moment because they are in no way small.
All these statistics have gained the attention of psychologists, concerned parents, and researchers in other fields that study alcohol intervention. Many are trying to seek ways to put an end to what some call an alcohol epidemic, but the statistics have not changed much since 2015.
- 1,825 deaths from alcohol-induced accidents
- 600,000 injuries
- 97,000 victims of sexual assault and rape
- 25% reported academic problems
- 5% face legal consequences
It is clear by this point that drinking in college is a problem that needs to be addressed more directly. We are talking about young adults who are spending thousands of dollars on their education, but many of which may be throwing that education away by binge-drinking. Some may face legal consequences that could get them kicked out of college and others can face health-related problems later in life that alcohol counseling can only do so much to reverse.
The Dangers of Binge-Drinking
Binge drinking is defined as drinking enough alcohol in one day to reach a Blood Alcohol Concentration (BAC) of 0.08%. Men have to drink 5 or more drinks to reach this level, whereas women have to drink 4 or more drinks. At 0.8%, you will have slurred speech, slowed reaction times, and poor balance. Your hearing will feel muffled and your mind will be so relaxed that your judgments, self-control, and concentration will be significantly lower.
Potential immediate consequences of drinking this much in a short period of time include:
- Car accidents
- Dangerous falls
- Violence that may lead to death
- STDs, unplanned pregnancy
Long term effects of binge drinking include:
- High blood pressure and heart disease
- Liver failure
- Breast, mouth, throat, liver, or colon cancer
- Memory and learning problems that may build to Korsakoff’s syndrome
Reasons College Students Drink
From the point of view of the college students themselves, the majority of them report that they drink in response to personal problems in their lives. This includes family and academic struggles, social pressures or social anxiety, and parents who were laid back with drinking alcohol. Psychologically, many who drink suffer anxiety, depression, loneliness, and low self-esteem.
To the college student looking for a chance to finally fit in with the larger crowd that he or she may have missed out in high school, drinking alcohol is a fast and effective ticket to confidence, acceptance, and popularity amongst peers. The entire reason social groups form and people engage in friendships bonds is the desire to fit in and feel accepted. Alcohol is something that is very tempting to take advantage of once someone drinks for the first time.
The Extent of the Problem
The American Psychological Association (APA) has collected studies on college alcohol use and reports that there is a problematic relationship between the age level of college students and drinking alcohol. People within the college age group of about age 18-22 are not done developing in terms of their brain. Until about age 25, the frontal cortex has not finished forming and this is the part of the brain that handles making decisions, judgments, and regulating or inhibiting impulses.
People with frontal lobe damage tend to be unable to restrain impulsive behaviors like sexual activity, following rules, and adhering to social norms. This is not to say that this is how people in college behave, but since their frontal lobes are still developing, there is a small lack of impulse control present in this age group that alcohol use has the potential to exacerbate.
If college students continue to binge drink regularly, there is a strong potential for developing Alcohol Use Disorder, a physical dependence on alcohol to function properly and the person will need alcohol counseling to break free. Many may build a tolerance to alcohol over time and as a result, may stop keeping track of how much alcohol they consume the next time they drink. The more alcohol you drink, the higher the chance you will become addicted, especially if you are drinking several times a week or almost everyday.
Putting an End to the Alcohol Epidemic
BASICS is an intervention program that gives students feedback on their own drinking habits and uses motivational interview techniques to induce a change in those habits. This approach is considered to meet the highest standards of the NIAAA, but recent reports have shown this type of alcohol intervention to be ineffective for those with social anxiety. STEPS is another program that targets those most at risk for alcohol abuse right away, often before the student even starts drinking. Reports have shown that these two approaches have reduced alcohol use in college students overall.
Seeking Help for Alcohol Dependence
At The Recover, we understand that substance addiction is something that feels like it is impossible to overcome. This is why there are a several alcohol intervention programs with a wide range of techniques, medications, and therapies aimed at helping you overcome addiction with supportive help from others. These treatments are designed to give you have a fighting chance.
The Recover is an unbiased substance abuse and mental health news provider that helps people who are looking for the right treatment programs in their area. We also provide information on West Virginia centers for addiction recovery. If you are experiencing difficulties with controlling how much you drink, please feel free to contact us at (888) 510-3898 to talk to a treatment specialist who can help you find the right alcohol counseling center for your personal needs.