The potential for binge drinking to become a stepping stone to alcoholism (if not controlled), its effects on physical AND mental health and the behavior of those under the influence (unsafe sex, car accidents and the like) are staple fodder for the media. A media that only fuels the anxiety of adults. So why is it that binge drinking in college is relatively common?
Causes Of College Binge Drinking
There are various factors that can drive a college student to take up binge drinking:
Peer pressure and the need for acceptance
As an ‘initiation rite’ into certain cliques and groups in college
Stress and anxiety
Celebrating an occasion or achievement
The need to feel more confident and uninhibited in a social gathering
The need to reinforce a ‘macho’ or assertive image
As a form of rebellion, particularly against parents and other authority figures in the student’s life
Other factors, such as genetics or a family background of alcohol abuse
However, these reasons aside, the ’21 for 21’ phenomenon has also worried many doctors, families, and support groups that are keen on fighting what they see as the binge drinking and college menace.
In some colleges/universities it is an accepted custom for college students to drink 21 glasses of alcohol when they turn 21 (for obvious reasons), and it is a very common reason for binge drinking.
While on the subject of the ’21 for 21’ phenomenon and binge drinking in college, researchers have estimated that a majority of men and women who consume 21 glasses of alcohol in one sitting can have a blood alcohol content (BAC) reading as high as 0.26, well above the nationwide 0.08 limit.
Such elevated BAC is associated with extremely serious medical outcomes such as coma and disorientation, and in extreme cases, even death.
Additionally, alcohol has been linked to as many as 2/3rd of college suicides and 95% of student related crimes on campus. Binge drinking is the leading preventable cause of premature death due to its links to automobile accidents. College binge drinking has also led to homicide, sexual abuse, injury, and criminal behavior in many cases.
Students who binge drink often are more susceptible to anxiety, depression, and isolation.
Binge drinking in college on a regular basis has affected students to the degree of hampering their focus, school work, and contributing to absenteeism and low grades.
However, one of the most damning effects of binge drinking and college is sexual assault. This activity has, according to statistics, accounted for the majority of female student rapes- as high as 90%, according to research conducted by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
This study also revealed that as many as 73% of the perpetrators and 55% of rape victims had indulged in excessive drinking prior to the act.
Moreover, it is well-documented that women absorb alcohol differently than men; females tend to have a higher blood alcohol concentration and less water in their system after drinking the same amount of alcohol as a man. Therefore, female students who indulge in college binge drinking are more likely to suffer from liver and alcohol-induced brain damage over time.
Some of the health conditions associated with binge drinking are:
The best way to prevent binge drinking is to either stop drinking alcohol altogether or limit yourself to the 5/4 rule when you are in a social setting. Try and curb your intake to about one strong drink per hour after eating something.
Campaigns and campus initiatives that provide guidance and information on binge drinking effects and also make the college alcohol policy accessible to one and all can be of great help. Other practices, such as an alcohol ban on campus, can prove beneficial as well.
Parents really need to make sure their kids are well-informed of their choices at hand and need to be there for them 24/7.
Some researchers and government bodies have claimed that restrictions such as raising the legal age for drinking, upping alcohol costs and excise tax, and restricting liquor licenses can help prevent college binge drinking.
Intervention and counseling can help students who are already suffering from the effects of college binge drinking by way of cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and motivational interviewing. The latter has proved particularly helpful for students who already suffer from alcohol dependency.
Deborah Morrow, M.S. Addiction Psychology, is the director of treatment programs for The Alcoholism Guide website. In her practice Deborah provides on-line coaching and support for those dependent on alcohol or who require other services such as relapse prevention or court mandated services. (Read More)