For many Americans, the college years are an opportunity to go wild and experiment away from the tempering influence of parental figures. And for many of these same young people, this time of experimentation involves regularly imbibing alcohol. Here is how alcohol abuse and affects college students.
Students tend to view their extracurricular binge drinking activities as being completely separate from their academics, the ostensible reason they’re attending college or university in the first place. They think that what they do on the weekends–and sometimes on weeknights as well–has no bearing on their classroom activities. If anything, they see drinking as a way to deal with the stressors that come with coursework and exams.
However, this way of thinking is a false dichotomy and can be dangerous. Studies have repeatedly shown that drinking, especially heavily, during college has both direct and indirect negative affects college students GPAs. (The indirect effects come via the opportunity cost of time spent drinking and recovering from drinking rather than studying and doing homework).
Researchers have found that college binge drinking is associated with lower GPAs across the board for all demographics studied. The result of anonymous surveys conducted on college campuses across the country has shown that one out of every four college students admits to having suffered academically, whether by way of failing grades or other problems, due to their excessive drinking. In the most extreme cases, students may begin to prioritize drinking over going to class, doing homework and even studying for exams.
The degree to which college students abuse alcohol varies widely, but, for many among them, partying multiple nights a week is the norm. And at these parties, the expectation is that everyone will drink to get drunk, the only real limit being the point at which one passes out–or worse. This pattern of behavior, although accepted and even encouraged amongst peer groups on college campuses, is actually akin to addiction.
According to AION Health Group, “..a leading evidence-based recovery center that offers holistic treatments for long-term recovery, people with alcoholism–more formally known as alcohol use disorder or AUD–often suffer from a combination of mental and physical dependencies that stay with them for life.” In other words, once a susceptible individual becomes addicted to alcohol, it can be incredibly difficult for them to move on.
Thus, while some are able to drink heavily in college without suffering any negative consequences down the road, for others, their college drinking habits set them on a path toward a lifelong battle with alcoholism. For more information about alcohol addiction statistics, check out this link.
Somehow, it has become an accepted truth that college students will and do consume excessive amounts of alcohol throughout the four years–on average–that they attend university. However, binge drinking on college campuses is, in fact, no less dangerous than binge drinking anywhere else; that is to say, it is a problem with potential long-term health consequences and should be viewed as a cause for concern, rather than passively accepted or actively encouraged, depending on the context.