College Alcohol Abuse

College alcohol abuse is a major problem on many campuses, and can cause major academic, personal, legal, and medical problems.

The Problem Of College Alcohol Abuse

Drinking at college is a popular activity for many students. Parties where alcohol is widely available can often be the main way to socialize on college campuses. It is common for college students to have relaxed attitudes towards dangerous amounts of alcohol consumption. In particular binge drinking is a major problem. Unfortunately, college alcohol abuse can have many serious personal, legal, financial, academic, and medical consequences.

Problems become apparent when college students don’t practice moderation when consuming alcoholic beverages and develop unhealthy drinking habits. Reports have revealed that roughly 4 out of 5 college students abuse alcohol. 110,000 students aged 18 to 24 are arrested each year for alcohol-related violations like driving under the influence and being drunk in public. 1,825 college students die every year from unintentional alcohol-related injuries.

What Are The Risks Of College Alcohol Abuse?

College students who abuse alcohol face unique risks that can have short and long-term effects. College students can easily transition from having 1 to 2 drinks per week, to 1 to 2 drinks per day, to 1 to 2 drinks per hour. This progression can rapidly develop into a tolerance for alcohol. In addition to uncomfortable hangovers, students are at increased risk of:

  • Academic decline
  • Irritability
  • Missed classes
  • Binge drinking
  • Blacking out
  • Alcohol poisoning
  • Violent acts
  • Criminal activity
  • Car accidents
  • Body injury

The long-term effects of college alcohol abuse can include:

  • Stroke
  • Brain damage
  • Cancer
  • Infertility
  • Heart problems
  • High blood pressure
  • Ulcers
  • Addiction
  • Liver problems
  • Death

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College Alcohol Abuse, Assault, And Violence

College alcohol abuse leads to risky behaviors like drunk driving, vandalism, fights, violence, and sexual indiscretion. The connection between college alcohol abuse and sexual assault and other violent crimes is both complicated and harrowing. 696,000 college students are assaulted by other students yearly and more than 97,000 men and women in college are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault every year.

College-aged women are especially vulnerable to sexual assault due to sexually aggressive attitudes that are fueled by drinking. These attitudes can lead to date rape. Alcohol-impaired judgement can also cause many students to make sexually risky decisions like having unprotected sex or other sexual actions they normally would not do.

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College Binge Drinking

The number of people binge drinking on campuses increases daily. Binge drinking is different than heavy drinking. Binge drinking is defined as:

  • 4 or more drinks in under 2 hours for women.
  • 5 or more drinks in under 2 hours for men.

About half of all college students engage in binge drinking. Reasons a student may binge drink may include:

  • Embracing a perception of freedom.
  • Relaxed attitudes with alcohol abuse.
  • Wanting to prove one’s self.
  • Escapism.
  • Hazing rituals.
  • Wanting to fit in.
  • Overcoming anxieties.
  • Peer pressure.
  • Environmental factors.
  • Stress.

In particular, the hazing and pressure to fit in that are found in Greek life can normalize binge drinking. Hazing, initiating rituals in college fraternities and sororities, can seem innocent, but actually be very dangerous. Hazing often includes binge-drinking rituals which, in some cases, have caused fatal alcohol poisoning or death.

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Factors That Influence College Alcohol Abuse

  • Having a family history of drinking.
  • Drinking for self-confidence.
  • Disorders like depression and anxiety.
  • A history of drug abuse.
  • Associating with friends who drink.

Alcohol Overdose

Binge drinking in college can lead to an alcohol overdose which is the result of too much alcohol in the bloodstream. This affects the areas in the brain that control basic life support functions like heart rate, breathing, and temperature control. For those drinking in college, it is important to be able to recognize the warning signs of an overdose because getting help can save someone’s life. These are symptoms to look for.

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty remaining conscious or staying awake
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slow breathing (less than 8 per minute)
  • Irregular breathing (10 seconds or more in between breaths)
  • Slow heart rate
  • Clammy skin
  • Dulled responses (like no gag reflex)
  • Extremely low body temperature, bluish skin color, or paleness

If an individual is showing any combination of these signs, 911 should be called immediately. Don’t wait for all of these signs to be present because at that point it may be too late. When emergency responders arrive, it is important that they receive all the information about the situation so they can do their best to assist. This includes the amount and type of alcohol consumed, any other substances involved, allergies, and existing health conditions.

Stopping Excessive Drinking Before It Gets Worse

Making a habit of excessive drinking can create traumatic life-changing effects. If you are a college student who has been a victim of binge drinking, has suffered trauma due to an alcohol-related assault, or needs help stopping your drinking, there is help available.

Treatment providers will guide college students to treatment facilities sensitive to the needs of young adults in confidential settings. Here, students can safely heal trauma, and discover underlying causes of binge drinking or alcohol abuse. Contact a treatment provider today.

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