Addiction | 7 min read

College Drinking. The Truth That Shocks

Medically Reviewed

Medically Reviewed By

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

Dr. Po-Chang Hsu

On August 31, 2022

Written By

Amanda Stevens

Amanda Stevens, B.S.

On November 22, 2019

College Drinking. The Truth
Reading Time: 7 minutes

College drinking is a problem that does not seem to go away soon. College kids indulge in drinking a lot of alcohol, even though drinks are illegal in their residential areas. Parents send their kids to colleges expecting them to return as a better version of themselves. However, alcohol drinking threatens these expectations.

A study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) shows that about 53% of college students between 18 – 22 consumed alcohol within the past month. More than a third of this percentage engaged in binge drinking. Binge drinking refers to consuming alcohol within a two-hour timeframe, resulting in a blood alcohol content level of 0.08 or above. This amount translates to approximately five drinks for men and four for women.

College life and alcohol often coexist for many reasons. College students turn to alcohol to cope with the stressful college life, fit, or for living the Greek life. Unfortunately, this consumption often has severe consequences like illnesses, crime, sexual assault, or poor academic standards. The silver lining is that these kids can turn their lives around with help.

How Do College Students Become Alcoholics?

Looking for permanent solutions to a problem without first understanding it is almost impossible. Unfortunately, there are many reasons college students turn to alcohol abuse. Knowing the sources of alcoholism helps you develop the right strategies to combat the menace.

1. Greek Life

Once a student gets to college, you can expect specific elements of college life. These expectations may be from popular movies that depict college life as a mixture of schooling and never-ending parties with alcohol.

Colleges have sororities and fraternities that condone heavy drinking. These groups often throw parties with a lot of drinks; they expect those in attendance to drink. College students drink at these parties as part of their regular activities and rituals.

2. Fitting In

Many people who have been to college dreaded not fitting in. Besides dealing with the other challenging aspects of college life, students dread not being able to fit in with their peers. This occurrence happens in students in their freshman year.

An image showing two happy college students, college drinking games, why do college students drink

Students will put themselves through various dangerous situations, such as drinking, to connect with other students. Many students turn to alcohol as an icebreaker or to boost their social engagements at gatherings. Others may drink to mask their challenges.

The last thing a college student needs is others to see them dealing with problems they may consider small for someone in college.

3. Free Time

College life often differs from the one many students lived before their admissions. Many will have a lot of unstructured time. These periods will have no supervision, something they find new considering how their parents monitored them.

This freedom can confuse many of them. What will they do with this independence? Some students engage in a few beers to pass this time. No one is telling them how to spend their leisure time or not to use alcohol.

4. Sports and College Pride

How will the players and fans celebrate if a college team wins a senior tournament? Besides the pitchside celebrations, these groups often head to parties that serve alcohol. This cheerful mood often makes the students binge drink as they celebrate their success.

The spectators may even start drinking before and during the game. If you add their daily consumption, their BAC will be high.

What Are the Effects of College Alcoholism?

College alcoholism has many consequences that affect the addict and those around them. Unfortunately, some of these effects are permanent and can cause death.

1. Poor Performance in School

The NIAAA states that 25% of college students can attribute alcohol to their poor performance in school. College students that use alcohol can have their academics suffer because of their AUD. A student’s academics may change in various ways mainly because:

  • Choosing to drink instead of doing their assignments, going to class, or studying for their papers
  • Experiencing hangovers that make them oversleep and miss lectures or exams
  • Experiencing headaches that can cause them not to do or hand in their assignments or not study for their papers resulting in low grades.

2. Drunk Driving

Statistics show that 19% of accidents caused by drunk drivers are because of students that drive while intoxicated. These collisions result in deaths, injuries, or criminal proceedings against these students. The students can have their driving licenses suspended, serve a jail term, or pay fines ranging from $5,000 to $20,000. Besides the consequences imposed by the courts, the school may suspend or expel the student. They may also deny student-specific privileges like scholarships.

3. Theft

Intoxicated students are susceptible to making bad choices, such as destroying the properties of the school or other students. They may engage in these acts for misguided reasons, such as the thrill of it or to get revenge. Once the school or other students identify them, a complaint can get them a suspension or even expulsion. They have to pay for the damages they cause, which may cost several thousands of dollars.

4. Unplanned Sexual Encounters

Alcohol affects your understanding of your surroundings, ability to think well, and physical coordination. These changes make you an easy target for sexual abuse, as you can barely defend yourself. Alcohol consumption may also make you susceptible to engaging in unprotected sex, which may lead to an unplanned pregnancy and serious sexually transmitted diseases. These consequences can alter your life.

5. Alcohol-related Injuries and Other Health Issues

Alcoholism leads to several health challenges among college students. Some of these health complications lead to the deaths of students. Others permanently affect the lives of the students. Alcohol use disorder can lead to the following health changes.

  • Increased Confidence – makes you put yourself in unnecessary danger
  • Drowsiness – causes to fall asleep while performing tasks that need your attention, such as driving or experimenting in the lab
  • Decreased Mobility – slows your reactions
  • Loss of Balance – leads to falls
  • Impaired Vision – affects your judgments based on what you see

Binge Drinking Can Lead to the Following Problems.

  • Liver damage
  • Sexual impotence
  • Stomach ulcers
  • Lowered immune system
  • Heart complications like stroke and arrhythmia
  • High blood pressure
  • Death and loss of brain cells

How to Prevent College Students from Alcohol Abuse

We can use a few techniques to prevent alcoholism among college students.

1. Stress Management Education

Many students use AUD to cope with the stress they deal with while in college. They may drink to deal with stress from parents expecting them to make something of themselves in college, financial difficulties, and the pressure of socializing. Finding alternative ways for them to unwind can be beneficial. Inform them about alternatives, such as counseling and finding a hobby.

2. Alcohol Education

Many ads portray alcohol as a good thing. The pressure students face from addicts around them can also make them drink. However, many do not know the amount of alcohol that is not harmful. Educating them on the limits can help them make better choices and avoid developing AUD. Cover the signs, consequences, and recovery from alcoholism.

3. Providing Alcohol-free Recreational Activities

Many students have plenty of free time when they struggle to find activities to do. This idleness makes them turn to alcohol. Finding activities to keep them busy can leave them with little time to think of drinking.

An image showing An american football player, college football drinking game, college drinking statistics 2019

The college should invest in activities like sports, shows, and community service projects. A hectic schedule means the students are likely to think of resting while free and not drinking.

What to Do If a College Student Has Become an Alcoholic

An intervention may be necessary if the student is not willing to quit alcohol or fails in their attempts. The ideal course of action is to seek help from a detox center. The student may get help as an inpatient or outpatient, among many other available treatment options.

Get Help From Ascendant New York Drug and Alcohol Detox 

There are many benefits of getting help from a licensed detox facility. Ascendant New York Drug and Alcohol Detox is a fully licensed detox center located in the heart of manhattan. The main benefits include:

  • Tailored Treatment Plans That Suit the Student. A licensed detox facility approaches each case with different techniques. A licensed professional will hear and monitor the student to devise a plan that will work for them. Ascendant New York Drug and Alcohol Detox will design the treatment to ensure that it does not interfere with the student’s academic life.
  • Expert Care. Ascendant New York Drug and Alcohol Detox has professionals with the training and experience to ensure that the student overcomes addiction. Trained professionals can deal with various withdrawal symptoms. In addition, their knowledge helps them foresee any challenges the student can encounter while detoxifying.
  • Post-addiction Treatment Plan. While the initial days of recovery are difficult, ensuring that the student does not undo any work is critical. Using working alternatives, a licensed detox facility will help students cope with the urge to drink. They set up a plan that reduces the likelihood of the student falling back to addiction.

Final Word

Alcohol addiction is a problem that affects a significant number of college students. Unfortunately, efforts by various stakeholders to deal with this menace are not bringing the expected results. While they are reducing AUD among the students, the number of them still abusing alcohol is still high. NIAAA reports that more than half of college students drank alcohol in the previous month. A third of them engaged in binge drinking, a dangerous way to consume alcohol.

College kids drink alcohol for various reasons. Some drink to fit in among their peers, while others consume it because of college or sports pride. Other students have alcoholism because of Greek life. They drink as a ritual in their sororities and fraternities. Some college students have so much free time that they engage in alcoholism to pass the time. AUD has many dangerous effects on college students. It can lead to poor performance in school, drunk driving, theft, dangerous sexual activities, and health issues. These effects can be permanent and life-threatening.

You need to be proactive in the fight against alcoholism in colleges. You can implement a mandatory stress management class. This education will help children cope with stressful situations like pressure from home or social groups, making them addicts. Adding an alcohol education class may also help combat the menace. It will teach the kids about the effects of resisting and recovering from AUD. Providing alcohol-free recreational activities can help combat idleness, which often leads to alcohol abuse.

You can help a student with addiction by seeking help from a fully licensed detox facility such as Ascendant New York Drug and Alcohol Detox. Ascendant New York’s medically supervised detox provides tailored treatments that will work on the specific student.

If you or a loved one are struggling with alcohol addiction and seeking a New Jersey alcohol rehab, reach out to Ascendant today.

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  1. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). College Drinking | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Published June 2022. Accessed August 31, 2022.
  2. White A, Hingson R. Publications | National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism | Measuring the Burden — Alcohol’s Evolving Impact on Individuals, Families, and Society. Accessed August 31, 2022.
  3. Covington T. Drunk Driving Statistics & Research 2022 | The Zebra. Published July 7, 2022. Accessed August 31, 2022.