Environmental and peer influences combine to create a culture of drinking on most college campuses. This culture promotes college drinking as a rite of passage.
Many college freshmen arrive on campus with the perception that drinking lots of alcohol is part of the college experience. Their perceptions are somewhat correct – the drinking lifestyle is a well-advertised and relatively cheap form of entertainment on college campuses. When underage students were surveyed, 87% reported that it was “easy” or “very easy” to obtain alcohol.
Some students will choose to drink in moderation and in a responsible manner, while some will choose to abstain from alcohol use. Some tips for responsible drinking include:
Not all students drink in moderation. Binge drinking is very common on college campuses – 44.8% of college students are classified as binge drinkers. Binge drinking is typically defined as consuming five or more drinks in a row for men, and four or more drinks in a row for women. The U.S. Surgeon General and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have identified college binge drinking as a major public health problem.
Occasional binge drinking can be a segue to alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse is defined as a pattern of drinking that results in one or more of the following situations within a 12-month period:
Alcoholism, or alcohol dependence, is the most severe form of alcohol abuse. It is a chronic disease characterized by the consumption of alcohol at a level that interferes with physical and mental health and with family and social responsibilities. An alcoholic will continue to drink despite serious health, family, or legal problems.
At least 50 % of college student sexual assault cases are attributed to alcohol abuse. Women felt more responsible for sexual assault if they had consumed alcohol beforehand. 13.6 percent of college students reported having unprotected sex in the past 12 months as a result of their own drinking. Underage students are significantly more likely to experience alcohol-related problems, such as damaging property, injuring themselves, getting into trouble with police, being treated for alcohol overdose, doing something they later regretted, or forgetting their actions.
It is a personal choice for each individual whether to drink or not. When you are making decisions about alcohol, keep the following statistics in mind:
If you find aspects of your drinking to be a concern, go to the counseling center or health center on campus. They can provide information and referrals. Most communities (and many campuses) have Alcoholics Anonymous chapters.
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