Alcohol abuse is a public health problem for every demographic. Addiction can develop among people of every race, age, and social status. For college students, alcohol abuse can feel like a rite of passage. Identifying the factors that lead to college drinking can help stop alcohol addiction from spreading among young people.
By the Numbers–Alcohol Abuse in College Students Today
Substance abuse is a serious concern on most college campuses. While illegal and prescription drugs can be a problem, the most widely abused substance is alcohol. Four out of every five students attending college drink alcohol. That’s a staggering 80 percent, highlighting the prevalence of alcohol use and abuse among the demographic.
Eighty percent is a big number, but it’s also close to the same number of adults in the general population that consume alcohol. It’s far more worrying at the college level, however. That’s because more than half of all college students are under the age of 21, which makes their alcohol consumption illegal. It’s also a problem because many of these college students aren’t consuming alcohol responsibly or in moderation.
Two out of every three college student binge drinks. This is excessive consumption, and it is the cause of many serious health and social problems. Addiction is just one of these problems.
Twenty percent of college students meet the criteria for an AUD diagnosis. AUD, or Alcohol Use Disorder, is a precursor to addiction. Twenty percent is well above the number for the general population. This means that college students are at greater risk for alcohol abuse, addiction and lasting health problems related to alcohol consumption.
Why College Students Abuse Alcohol
Substance abuse develops for a wide number of factors. For college students, alcohol abuse may come down to a few specific reasons. These can include stress, peer pressure, experimentation, a lack of self-confidence and mental health.
Many adults look back at their college years as a time of fun and enjoyment. However, many college students report that they experience a lot of stress. This stress may be a result of academic pressure, sporting events, a busy schedule, moving in with new roommates or just being away from home for the first time.
It is normal to experience stress at this age. Unfortunately, many college students aren’t sure how best to deal with this stress. A lot of alcohol abuse stems from students who just don’t have an effective means of stress relief. Alcohol abuse becomes a way to blow off steam, but that can’t be a healthy long-term plan.
Peer pressure is another big issue for college students. Joining certain sports teams or social groups can involve drinking rituals or the expectation of party attendance. Drinking is often strongly encouraged, and it is hard to say no. This peer pressure encourages many young people to drink and it also encourages heavy or frequent consumption.
Alcohol abuse at the college level can also be a result of curiosity. It is normal for young people to want to experience new things. A lot of drug and alcohol experimentation is a direct consequence of that.
A better way for young people to explore the world is with new experiences that won’t harm their health. Meeting new people, traveling to new destinations or testing new cuisines is a much safer, healthier approach to experimentation.
Alcohol Used as Release and Self- Confidence Builder
A lack of self-confidence is another issue that can increase alcohol consumption among college students. Many young adults are unsure of themselves, especially when it comes to a new phase of life like college. The years directly after puberty can impact the way that teens look and feel about themselves.
Some college students are overwhelmed with the college experience, and they lack the confidence to introduce themselves to new people. Alcohol can serve as a temporary boost in confidence. It can help shy people become outgoing, at least for the night. Sadly, this sets up a dangerous pattern that can lead to alcohol use disorders very quickly.
Finally, mental health has to be addressed. Mental health conditions can cause addiction at any age, but they are less likely to be diagnosed among teens. Anxiety and depression are common among young adults, and treatment is necessary. Without proper mental health care, some young people may self-medicate with alcohol.
The Phenomenon of Binge Drinking and Alcohol Abuse
Alcohol abuse comes in many forms. One of the most socially accepted is binge drinking. On college campuses, binge drinking is common, and it can pave the way for serious health and behavioral consequences.
Binge drinking is excessive alcohol consumption. You’ve been binge drinking if your blood-alcohol content, or BAC, is over 0.08 g/dL. For most men, binge drinking is defined as drinking five or more alcoholic drinks in two hours. For women, binge drinking is drinking four or more alcoholic drinks in two hours.
Binge drinking harnesses all the risks of alcohol consumption and concentrates them. On college campuses, binge drinking can seem normal. In fact, most college students surpass the guidelines for binge drinking, often consuming six, seven or eight drinks in a short amount of time.
The reasons for binge drinking in college are the same as they might be anywhere. However, certain events and organizations encourage it. Fraternities and sports clubs, for example, may have new members drink in excess just to belong to the group.
Binge drinking can be the cause of the most immediate alcohol-related health problems. Accidents are more likely if you’ve been binge drinking, and fatalities can occur. There is simply no safe way to binge drink at any age.
Identifying the Dangers of Excessive Alcohol Consumption
College students that abuse alcohol are at risk for a number of consequences. Alcohol abuse can increase the likelihood of sexual abuse, assault, death, addiction and academic problems. The only way to avoid these risks is to avoid alcohol consumption.
Every year, alcohol is responsible for the deaths of far too many students. Some students die as a direct result of alcohol poisoning. Almost 2,000 college students die every year as a result of alcohol-related unintentional injuries. This might include situations where students are passengers in an alcohol-related car accident.
Drinking alcohol also increases the chance of committing assault or being a victim of an assault. On college campuses in the United States alone, over 690,000 students are assaulted every year by someone who has been drinking alcohol.
Alcohol abuse also increases the risk of sexual assault. Annually, almost 100,000 men and women experience sexual assault that is alcohol-related.
Attending college isn’t just about academics, but there is no denying that school is a big part of the equation. However, alcohol consumption can negatively impact academic performance. One in four students reports that their schoolwork suffers as a direct result of alcohol.
College students that drink alcohol might suffer from a reduced ability to concentrate, meaning lower test scores. They are also more likely to be late or absent from lectures and study groups. In short, drinking alcohol can detract from the main reason for attending college–Academics.
Alcohol abuse in college can also lead to the development of alcoholism. Binge drinking and excessive alcohol consumption is not a safe rite of passage. For many college students, alcohol abuse can and will lead to a lifetime of addiction.
Helping College Students Overcome Alcohol Addiction
Individuals that abuse alcohol needs to get professional help. Alcoholism is a serious illness, and it isn’t something that can be cured instantly. College students and their loved ones can turn to Healing Springs Ranch for a variety of treatment methods, recovery programs, advice and support along the way.
There are two major categories of addiction recovery–Inpatient and outpatient. Inpatient, also known as residential treatment, is the best way for clients to get 24/7 medical supervision and support. This also allows for more accountability and peer connections.
It is also important for college students to feel that they are unique. No two guests are the same, so they shouldn’t have the exact same methods of treatment. At Healing Springs Ranch, our Integrated Addiction Model, or I.AM, takes individuality into account. College students will be able to focus on their specific needs throughout the recovery process.
Alcohol addiction treatment is more than just a medical issue. True recovery requires psychological and emotional support as well as doctor’s visits and blood tests. Through a comprehensive, whole-person approach to healing, patients can experience meaningful and lasting recovery.
At Healing Springs Ranch, there is a wide range of treatment methods and amenities available to clients. College students will be able to take advantage of all of the following:
- Life skills and relapse prevention
- Mental health counseling
- Vocational mentoring
- Group and individual therapy
- Dialectical behavioral and cognitive behavioral therapy
- Golf, kayaking, yoga and swimming facilities
Alcohol abuse is a serious and growing problem among college students. At Healing Springs Ranch in Tioga, Texas, people of all ages can get the help they need with addictions of any kind. Recover from addiction once and for all, and start right now by calling 866-656-8384.