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Alcohol Use and Abuse in College

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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:

  • Drink slowly—sip and savor the taste of your drink rather than guzzle or gulp
  • Eat while you drink. Foods high in protein slow down the absorption of alcohol
  • Keep track of how much you are drinking and know what your limit is
  • Make drinking a secondary activity by combining it with another social activity.
  • NEVER drink and drive. Do not get in a car driven by someone who has been drinking.

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:

  • Failure to fulfill major work, school, or home responsibilities
  • Drinking in situations that are physically dangerous, such as while driving or operating machinery
  • Having recurring alcohol-related legal problems, such as being arrested for DUI or for physically hurting someone while drunk
  • Continued drinking despite having ongoing relationship problems that are caused or worsened by the drinking

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:

  • 1,400 college students die each year from alcohol-related causes.
  • 70,000 students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape annually.
  • 400,000 students have unprotected sex under the influence of alcohol each year.
  • 500,000 students are injured annually as a result of alcohol use.
  • 600,000 students are assaulted each year by another student who has been drinking.
  • 25 percent of college students report that their drinking caused them to fall behind in classes and receive lower grades overall.
  • 34 percent of college students say they’ve missed at least one class because of their alcohol or drug use.
  • Nearly 34 percent of college students admitted to failing a test or project because of the aftereffects of drinking or drug use.

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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shiju over 9 years ago shiju


I feel really sad. Our young generation who are responsible for tommorows future are destroying themseleves by intake of alcohol. Its devils work. I strongly recommend to control yourself and have respect for oneself by controlling alcohol intake or by stoping alcohol intake.