The Facts About College Alcoholism and Heavy Drinking

By: Kerry Nenn

  • According to National Drug Use and Health Surveyapproximately 10-20% of students have an alcohol use disorder.
  • Almost 55% of full-time students aged 18 to 22 have consumed alcohol in the past month.
  • More than 33% of students of the same age reported having consumed alcohol in the previous month.

These numbers are more than statistics. Each number represents a student – a young adult at risk due to alcohol abuse and excessive alcohol consumption.

Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of an excessive amount of alcohol in a short period of time. For men, this means drinking five or more alcoholic beverages in two hours or less. For women, this means drinking four or more alcoholic beverages in two hours or less.

Excessive alcohol consumption at university: who is at risk?

Some young adults consider drinking alcohol to be a natural part of the college experience. In fact, many college students believe that drinking alcohol is “just what students do.” But this philosophy can quickly lead students down a risky path that ultimately requires alcohol rehab.

This seems to be especially true for people involved in fraternities, sororities, and athletics. Students from these organizations have a higher rate excessive alcohol consumption than others. In 2018, no less than 42% of student-athletes reported having a excessive alcohol consumption problem.

But athletes and Greeks are not the only ones at risk…

In general, young adults attending college tend to drink more than their peers. Researchers found that 33% of students aged 18 to 22 reported having consumed alcohol in the previous month, compared to 28% of non-students of the same age. And 8.2% of college students said they had consumed a lot of alcohol in the past month, compared to 6.4% of non-students of the same age.

Episodes and patterns of heavy drinking put both the student and those around them at risk.

What are the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption in college?

When we look at the to researchit is clear that alcohol abuse among students has many negative consequences.

Let’s look at some of the specific risks associated with drinking alcohol in college:


Academic performance

Getting to class on time, finishing homework and taking tests is all the more difficult to accomplish when you’re under the influence of alcohol or hungover after a night of drinking. About 25% of students report experience academic consequences related to excessive alcohol consumption.

The fallout includes missed classes, lateness, poor homework and exam performance, and lower grades. In some cases, the consequences of excessive alcohol consumption can cause students’ grades to reach the point of no return…meaning they drop out of school.

personal injury

From cuts to broken bones to concussions, students who drink increase their risk of injury. Each year, 599,000 students under the influence of alcohol injure themselves unintentionally.

Some students may also increase their risk of intentional self-harm by consuming alcohol. Those who fight against depression or other mental health conditions are already at highest risk for self-harm or suicide, and drinking alcohol can alter their minds to cause them to act irrationally, making these acts more likely to occur .

Personal Security

Alcohol can make a student more vulnerable to aggression. Each year, 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.

Sexual assault also commonly involves the consumption of alcohol. Researchers report that the majority of college sexual assaults involve alcohol or other substances. A study found that 97,000 college students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or rape each year.

Often sexual predators seek out victims who have been drinking at a bar or party on campus. These victims are often too inconsistent to fight back, prone to fainting, and unable to remember specific details of the attack once sober.

Criminal record

Under the influence of alcohol, students may do things they would never consider doing when sober. The most common crimes committed by students while intoxicated include vandalism, theft, assault, and driving under the influence.

More than three million students drive under the influence of alcohol every year. And 11% of students admit to damaging property after a night of drinking.

Sometimes students may view these crimes as benign pranks or otherwise harmless acts. But there are often serious legal consequences, which can include expulsion from school, fines, loss of driver’s license and even jail time.


For students, alcohol consumption can pose serious health risks that go far beyond minor injuries. Each year, more than 22,000 students are hospitalized due to alcohol overdose.

Excessive alcohol consumption can also cause long-term damage to the body. Every year, almost 15,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem. These problems include high blood pressure, liver damage, and inflammation of the pancreas.

Excessive alcohol consumption in early adulthood can also harm brain developmentaffecting memory and cognition for the rest of a student’s life.

Life and death

Yes, even lives are at stake when it comes to college drinking. Alcohol contributes to more than 1,800 deaths per year among students. This includes alcohol-related injuries and motor vehicle accidents.

It is also important to mention that more than half of all alcohol-related deaths are due to resultant health complications – cancer or liver disease – caused by excessive alcohol consumption over a prolonged period.


Heavy drinking and binge drinking while in college can quickly lead to alcohol addiction. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports that one in 10 students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Even if a student does not develop an alcohol addiction while in college, the habits formed during this time can lead to alcoholism in the future. Too often, what is considered a “phase” or “normal college life” becomes regular behavior, and the student develops patterns that later lead to alcohol addiction.

The consequences of alcohol addiction are often lifelong and tend to have a negative impact on jobs, finances, relationships, health – basically every aspect of a person’s life.

Nearly 15 million people in the United States currently struggle with an alcohol use disorder. However, only a small fraction (about 7.2%) receive the professional treatment they need.

Alcohol overdose

Alcohol overdose occurs when a person drinks more alcohol than their body can process. Also commonly known as “alcohol poisoning”, an alcohol overdose occurs when a person has so much alcohol circulating in their blood that it causes certain areas of the brain to shut down – areas responsible for controlling functions. basic vitals.

Since large amounts of alcohol are consumed during binge drinking, alcohol overdoses are a common result of these incredibly dangerous drinking episodes.

Signs of an alcohol overdose include:

  • Mental confusion
  • Difficulty waking up or staying conscious
  • slow breathing
  • slow heart rate
  • Loss of gag reflex
  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Moist skin
  • Low body temperature (indicated by chills or chills)
  • Bluish or pale skin

An overdose of alcohol can cause permanent brain damage or even death. If someone who has been drinking has these symptoms, don’t hesitate to call 911. This is an extreme emergency and time is running out. A person who has overdosed on alcohol needs immediate medical attention.

College Alcoholism: Treatment

With so many students suffering from alcohol use disorders and participating in binge drinking episodes, quality treatment programs are more important than ever. And rehabs around the country are responding to the increased need.

In fact, many alcohol detox centers now offer treatment programs specifically tailored to young adults. Fortunately, there are many resources and programs available for students who need support.

About Rhonda Lee

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