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The Problems with Alcohol and College Students

Alcohol and College Students

There are many college students that will naturally look to experiment. Maybe it’s drugs, alcohol, or social situations. To develop an addiction problem because of these experimental years is a reality. For example, when a young adult going to college gets into the party scene. They may drink on the weekends which could filter into the week. At some point, some of your kids may develop alcoholism. All of a sudden, your children are dealing with an addiction where the parties aren’t for fun anymore, they’re mandatory.

They use the parties to fall deeper into their addictions and stop caring about other things. Their behavior can change, becoming destructive. As a parent, you will want to help your kids. You may beg them to go to rehab and ultimately, you may have draw a hard line. It is a difficulty journey to watch your college child hit rock bottom while you stand there helpless to stop it. They’re adults now and their choices are their own. You can only help them when they want it. Sometimes, they are going to need to feel the consequences of their action while you stand on the sidelines and watch.

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How Accepted Alcohol Use is in College

Part of the reason for the high rate of alcoholism that develops through college is due to how accepted it is. There is a distinct drinking on college campuses. Not only is it highly accepted, it’s kind of expected. Many movies outline the kind of people that drink in college and the others who wished they could get into the parties.

They accept the risks that go along with it. In the news, there are so many accounts of deaths and other unfortunate incidents on college campuses relating to alcohol. This can be violence, sexual assaults, car accidents, and other accidents. Frat guys drinking themselves to death isn’t an uncommon story. How decisions are made and how people have sex are all topic for discussion on campus colleges. There are consequences but through the decades, alcohol abuse in colleges haven’t declined.

Here are some of statistics collected based on alcoholism and college students: 

  • Close to 60% of college students drank alcohol in the past month. Two thirds of those engaged in binge drinking during that time.
  • Close to 2,000 students attending college are estimated to die from accidental injuries due to alcohol use every year.
  • It’s believed that nearly 700,000 students are assaulted every year due to other students drinking and getting violent.
  • About 97,000 students will have to deal with a sexual assault or date rape, which is directly related to drinking.
  • 1 out of 4 students say they’ve had to suffer consequences from drinking when it comes to academics. This can include poor grades due to lack of understanding and missing classes.
  • Binge drinkers were more likely to do poorly in school when compared to their peers that didn’t binge drink. Binge drinking is when a person drinks at least three times weekly.
  • 20% of college students across the board met the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder. This can quickly lead to addiction if not managed.
  • Though there are no precise numbers, thousands of students go to the ER every year for alcohol poisoning.

Students will likely enjoy partying in their college years. Despite the fact it can have a negative effect on their schooling, they will have good memories of their younger years. Most students will usually stop heavy drinking when their college years are over. For some, their abuse of alcohol can become a more serious problem, alcoholism. When college is finished, it can be a stressful time. You’re entering into the world and trying to make a name for yourself. This stress can cause you to drink more which doesn’t allow you to truly excel. 

Remember that 20% of students end up with Alcohol Use Disorder. The college students’ brain is still in development and drinking excessively at this time puts you at greater risk of becoming an alcoholic. Statistics tell us that college students who binge drink are 19 more likely to become alcoholics when compared to those who don’t binge drink.

Signs of alcoholism you should look out for as a parent and also within yourself if you’re a student include:

  • You have a hard time maintaining control on how much alcohol you drink.
  • You make poor decisions when it comes to things like money, school, your health, social and legal situations.
  • You aren’t maintaining your responsibilities relating to school.
  • Your sleeping habits begin to change.
  • You start spending time with others who drink a lot and stop spending time with people who are into other things.
  • You begin to be able to drink more without feeling the effects (tolerance).
  • You spend a lot of time either drinking or being hungover.
  • You may experience withdrawal symptoms if you don’t drink.
  • Students who start hanging out with new social circles
  • A student develops a tolerance for alcohol
  • Your mood begins to change.
  • Failed attempts to stop drinking.
  • You begin to experience problems with all your relationships.

The College Life and Drinking

College life will inevitably lead to the partying lifestyle which of course includes drinking. Studies have found that about 80% of college students drink. Half of those students will binge drink. College towns have a different feeling to them. There are a lot of young people and the town will shape themselves the please the majority of the population. So there will be plenty of bars, pubs, and clubs. It’s good business after all. 

Some colleges are in bigger cities with urban areas that surround the campus. There will be plenty of local bars that rely on those college kids for their business to be successful. Colleges will be surrounded by living quarters. The sororities and fraternities make up what is known as a “Greek Row.” They are close to campus and close to all the opportunities to party. As it’s all so convenient, it contributes to how much and how often college kids drink. 

There are house parties, clubbing, bar hopping, and Greek events. They happen all the time and it’s a way for stressed out students to let their hair down and enjoy their lives a little. They are free for the first time in their lives. Peer pressure contributes to drinking because pretty much everyone is doing it. A college students brain hasn’t developed to full capacity so they’re way of thinking is less sensible than an adult. They have less willpower, their decision making skills aren’t as keen and they don’t consider consequences. This part of the brain simply hasn’t developed quite yet. 

They will take bigger risks without fear. They are more impulsive and worry more about being happy in the now and impressing the people around them. All of this is the perfect storm for drinking with peers in college.

College Towns with the Highest Count of Alcohol Abuse

Commuter colleges have less rates of partying and drinking. These are colleges where many of the students live near their home and not in a campus setting. Colleges where students are far from home and have things like fraternities on campus will see much higher rates of drinking. Here are the colleges that have the highest frequency of alcohol abuse in the country. 

These young adults that go to college have likely had some drinking experiences as teens. When they graduate from high school and move on to college, they want to embrace their new freedom. All of a sudden, alcohol is available at football games and socials. It’s a temptation that most students won’t turn away from. It might start out with one drink but can quickly turn into more. With so many opportunities to drink on a constant basis, the body can build a tolerance to alcohol. It will start to take more drinks for someone to feel the effects. 

It becomes easier to drink more and this kind of heavy drinking can increased the odds of developing alcohol use disorder. This can lead to health problems as alcohol damages your organs over time. It can also lead to emotional problems as alcohol is a depressant. It may even bring on mood disorders that haven’t previously been prevalent. Some of the side effects might be temporary while others can stick with you.

Many college students will binge drink which is drinking a lot of alcohol in a short time frame. When men drink five or more drinks in two hours, this is considered binge drinking. For women, it would be four drinks in the same time fame. The highest period of likeliness for binge drinking in college would be the first six weeks of freshman year. It has a lot to do with peer pressure and not foreseeing the consequences of this behavior. Part of the college experience is alcohol use and many students look forward to this aspect of going away to school. It makes it easier to fit in with their peers. Once they make friends with other students that like to party, they have fallen into the lifestyle. 

College students used to stick with beer but today, there is more hard liquor involved. It’s much less about the social aspect of drinking and more about drinking to get drunk. Liquor is a faster way to get drunk. For some, their end goal is to drink to the point of blacking out. This is extremely dangerous as in incapacitates the student. They may suffer from alcohol poisoning, get into an accident, or someone can harm them and they can’t fight back.

A study came out that analyzed college students consuming alcohol and what psychosocial problems were related. The study found that 88.6% of students drank while 20.5% would consume alcohol to the point of self harm. There was 14.9% of the group studied that were considered at risk of developing dependence. It found that the harmful consumption of alcohol and the dependence factor damaged:

  • Their performance academically.
  • Their relationships.
  • Their psychological status.
  • Their sexual life.

As a result, they experienced:

  • Changes in relationships.
  • Poor grades.
  • Aggression.
  • Crime.
  • High-risk behaviors.
  • Unprotected sex which lead to unexpected pregnancies or sexually transmitted diseases. 

The students experienced complications in their life due to their consumption of alcohol. They went on to say that programs to prevent alcohol abuse should be an important part of any college campus. The problems that arose from alcohol abuse and alcoholism with students affected them physically, emotionally, and socially.

Heavy Drinking Consequences in College

Even if students don’t drink, they are affected by alcohol use in college. They may watch their friend change from heavy drinking. When someone starts drinking heavily, they can tend to hurt everything in their path. If a friend tries to help them and they’re not ready, the drinker could turn violent or avoid their sober friends. Once the person begins to regularly drink a lot, they put their health and others at risk. There are many consequences that come with heavy drinking. Some of them include:

Heavy drinking can lead to a student getting good grades. This is a reflection of how their mind isn’t processing as well as it could. Drinking might become the priority which means classes are missed, homework isn’t completed and studying for exams isn’t taken seriously. There are 1 in 4 students that admit their poor grades are due to drinking. When a student doesn’t put the effort into school, it will inevitably lead to consequences. It will take more time for the student to graduate and of course cost more money in the long run. 

Students may also find themselves in need of alcohol rehab. It may require them to leave school for a semester to get clean. This may come as an intervention from the school, from parents, friends, or their own decision. The best practice is to not get to this point. If they do, there is help and it could make the rest of the college years fulfilling in better, healthier ways.

Drinking causes your mind to slow down which causes the rest of the body to react more slowly. You’re more likely to fall and not be able to stop yourself. This can lead to injuries like bruises or even broken bones. The more alcohol is in your system, the greater chance of injury. In fact, there are nearly 600,000 college students that get hurt on an annual basis from drinking. These injuries include fractures, sprains, head injuries, and more. When a person gets behind the wheel, the accidents are far more devastating. If a student is dealing with mental issues already, they’re at a great risk of hurting themselves on purpose or committing suicide. Alcohol can dramatically alter your mind so you’d do things you wouldn’t do sober.

When you drink enough alcohol, you lose your inhibitions. This makes you more susceptible to assault. There are nearly 700,000 students that have been assaulted by students as a result of drinking. Heavy drinking and sexual assaults are also closely linked. A victim may become too incoherent to know what’s happening to them. Even if they do, they are too out of it to fight back. They may even pass out and be taken advantage of. When this occurs, chances are the sex is not protected. It can lead to the victim contracting an STD or they may become pregnant. It’s also highly damaging on a psychological level.

When you’re drunk, your actions can be very different from your normal behavior. You may not comprehend the line of right and wrong. This can lead to crime. Many times, drunk college students will vandalise, damage other people’s property, drive drunk, or act violently. More serious crimes can be committed that put other people’s lives in danger. This can include murder, kidnapping, or battery. This can lead to fines, probation, suspension, prison, and loss of a driver’s license. Some students may be kicked out of college depending on the crime.

Heavy drinking can cause health problems in the current moment or down the road. Alcohol is poison in the body. Almost 150,000 students will develop a problem with their health due to alcohol consumption every year. This includes:

  • Liver damage.
  • High blood pressure.
  • Pancreas inflammation.
  • Change in brain chemistry. 

Frequent drinking in college students can cause them to develop alcoholism later. Usually alcoholism is a result of years of consistent drinking. It can also occur from heavy, frequent drinking through college.

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DUIs in College

A 2010 study was conducted about college students drinking and driving. This is what they found: 

  • Up to 20% of college students aged 19 and 20 had admitted to driving drunk during the past year. Once they turned 21, 23.5% of students drove drunk.
  • More than six out of ten students said they drove after consuming alcohol.
  • Two out of five of the 19 and 20 year old students said they had taken a ride with a drunk driver. For students aged 21 and 22, half of them had ridden in a car with someone who had been drinking. 

The fine for a DUI could cost anywhere from $5,000 to $20,000. This doesn’t include the cost of lives lost due to drinking and driving. When someone is convicted of a DUI, they will have to pay fees, their driver's license is revoked and there’s a possibility of jail time.

Reasons Behind High Alcohol Use in College

Their Surroundings

When students live on campus, they’re more likely to drink heavily. The culture promotes it with many parties and gatherings on a weekly basis. When there are a lot of sporting events or schools with the “greek life”, drinking is especially prevalent. For students who have their own apartment that’s close to campus, they are at risk of alcohol abuse. They have this sense of freedom without the life experience to drink in moderation. Without their parents around to be the voice of reason, they can do whatever they want.

Free Time With Little Structure

College students may begin drinking because they have the time to do it. They want to experiment and there’s nobody telling them they shouldn’t. They are living away from home and other than their studies, most students have a lot of free time. They want to socialize and hang out with people.

Coping with Stress and Pressure

Some college students have little to worry about. Their college is paid for and they don’t have to work. Still, the pressure of getting good grades are there for everyone. Some students may have to work and manage their bills and rent. Regardless of a students financial situation, college comes with it’s stresses. While there is a great feeling to freedom, a student will also have to take care of themselves. They have deadlines to meet and sometimes, there are conflicts with other students or professors. All of this stress can lead to a student drinking to cope. Heavy drinking under these circumstances can lead to psychological dependency.

Alcohol Abuse Prevention for Students

There is no fool-proof way to stop students from drinking. Parents and teachers can prepare students for the transition into college however. They can lay out what can happen if they do start abusing alcohol. Teaching students how to manage stress is one way of deterring alcohol abuse. Offering recreational activities that don’t involve drinking can also be helpful. Students should be aware of the consequences of alcohol abuse in college as well.

It’s important that both parents and schools educate teens about the consequences of drinking. Teens see people partying and drinking on TV and that’s what they know about alcohol. When your teen becomes a young adult and they’re going off to college, they may not understand the dangers. That they can becoming addicted to alcohol and they put their health and well being in jeopardy. 

Stress is a major contributor to alcohol abuse in college. They may start to use alcohol as a way of relaxing which can quickly become a dependence. By teaching them different tactics on how to deal with stress, there may be less reason for them to drink heavily. To drink for peace of mind will only cause potentially more troubling thoughts.

Schools are doing what they can to change the campus culture so there are more options for how you socialize and deal with your academics. The Department of Education has come up with some strategies to curb students turning to drinks for something to do. The hope is that it will shift their focus to other things that are healthier.

Some of the steps include:

  • Keeping recreational facilities open longer like the pool and gym.
  • Offering alcohol-free social gatherings.
  • Restricting any kind of advertisements of alcohol products on the campus.
  • Speaking to businesses to make sure that no minors are being served alcohol.
  • Discipling parents of the student who has broken rules on campus due to alcohol consumption.

What to Do When You Think Your Child is an Alcoholic

Oftentimes, a friend or family member will wish to stage an intervention when they suspect someone they love is an alcoholic. Addressing the problem needs to be done in a gently, caring way. This isn’t always easy but it’s important to get the message across and hope they’ll want to get the help they need. 

As a parent, you can speak with your doctor or you can speak directly with an addiction facility. They are happy to help you determine the best plan of action. They also verify your insurance so you can find out how much of the rehab program would be covered. They can help you find the words you need to speak with your child about their addiction.

At Northpoint Recovery, we offer an inpatient program for 28 days at our new facility. Our staff are professional addiction specialists. We use the best methods available including various therapies that have been proven effective. We also offer family therapy as we know how important it is to have support from loved ones. Call us today and we can answer any of your questions.

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