Drinking While Studying
Can You Still Get Good Grades?

Is it okay to be drinking while studying?

Medically Reviewed By Kayla Loibl | Last Edited : JULY  15, 
| 4 Sources

If you're not sure whether or not you should be drinking while studying, the answer is most likely no. You might be tempted to think that it will make your study session more bearable and productive, but in reality, drinking while studying can lead to serious consequences.  

In some cases, students who are intoxicated may feel like they are able to focus better on their work. However, research has shown that this isn't true—students who drank alcohol before taking an exam actually scored lower than those who didn't drink at all!

This isn’t surprising when considering the fact that concentration and attention span suffer both during and after intoxication from drinking alcohol.

Why Drinking While Studying is Not a Good Idea

No matter what your friend says, the truth is that alcohol will not improve your study habits. It has been shown that those who are drinking while studying seriously are able to get through less material than sober students, despite spending more time in front of their books.

While other substances can help a person focus while studying, alcohol is not one of them. The chemical effects that alcohol has on the brain can lead to problems with memory function and learning in students who consume it before or during their study sessions.

Studying for an exam after drinking excessive amounts of alcohol will only slow down your focus. Research has shown that students who didn't drink at all actually scored higher on their exams than those who drank before taking them.

Not only can too much alcohol lead to forgetfulness, but it interferes with the neurotransmitters that proper memory formation requires. Some research even suggests low levels of alcohol may be related to dementia later in life. Alcohol disrupts not only your ability to think clearly, but also interferes with the retention of those thoughts.

The state of intoxication caused by drinking is not conducive for studying or doing homework because it lowers attention span and concentration.

drinking while studyingDrinking while Studying- Photo by Teslariu Mihai

Alcohol Can Make You Feel More Confident but It Also Lowers Your Ability to Think Clearly

This belief is very common among college students, despite the fact that researchers have found no evidence to this claim. In reality, moderate drinking leads to lowered cognitive performance.

Drinking regularly will cause your brain to adapt its function in a way that prevents it from functioning normally when it's sober.

The problem with alcohol isn't just that it gives you an impairment-it also keeps you from knowing when things are actually impairing! As consistent drinkers build up tolerance for their substance of choice, they need more alcohol each time they drink so as not to feel the effects of drunkenness. Doing any kind of serious work after such heavy consumption lowers one's chances of concentration and alertness.

Even if you're not an alcoholic, heavy drinking can lead to a condition known as delirium tremens (DTs), which can cause seizures and even death. If excessive use of alcohol causes you problems with learning or emotional stability, then you should think about alternative strategies for handling stress.

Alcohol is definitely not the answer!  Studies have shown that students who drink heavily are at risk for causing either personal drama or interpersonal issues amongst themselves and their peers.

Drinking in excess is also linked to degenerative brain damage as well as cancer in adulthood.

Drinking and Studying are Two Activities that Can be Done Separately

Even when drinking moderately, alcohol still inhibits the learning process by preventing clarity of thought and concentration. When it comes to studying for exams or doing homework, the key is in finding an optimal performance zone that doesn't involve using substances.

You can help this process along by practicing good study habits such as pacing yourself, being organized and prioritizing your workload in order to avoid burnout and improve your performance.

Studying hard for finals? Don't drink alcohol! You'll probably get a better grade by studying sober than by partying the night before your exam!

What Should One Keep in Mind When Drinking While Studying?

If you're going to be drinking while studying, make sure you have a designated driver, or sober friend nearby.

Alcohol can cause you to lose track of time and overestimate your ability to drive safely. You should also drink slowly and try not to mix alcohol with other substances such as caffeine or energy drinks. It's a good idea to eat something before drinking, since food can slow down the rate at which your body absorbs alcohol into your system.

It's also beneficial to keep a few non-alcoholic beverages nearby so you can switch to them when the urge to drink more hits. If you're prone to studying in bars or clubs, it's easy to underestimate how much alcohol you've already had and keep adding more drinks as time drags on.

While this habit may seem harmless enough, it can lead to some really bad decisions that have long-lasting consequences, especially if you get behind the wheel of a car afterward.

Drink Water in Between Alcoholic Beverages to Prevent Dehydration 

When you're in the process of building up a tolerance to alcohol, it's pretty easy to forget that drinking too much will make you lose fluid. Alcoholic beverages are diuretics that cause dehydration and can also interfere with your body's natural tendency to regulate its temperature.

Withdrawal from alcohol is also associated with intense headaches and nausea, which usually occurs after only three or four days of cutting back on or stopping consumption entirely. The best way to prevent these consequences is just by remembering to drink plenty of water alongside your alcoholic beverages.

If you're planning on having any sort of activity afterward where physical endurance may be compromised (such as driving), then try not to have more than two drinks per hour.

Know Your Limits

Life is full of stressors and situations that can be difficult to deal with. If you're having a tough time keeping your emotions in check, then it's probably not the best idea to throw alcohol into the mix. It's true that moderate alcohol consumption releases endorphins that help to reduce pain, but this effect only lasts for about twenty minutes at most.

When it wears off, you'll just start feeling worse than before and could potentially make rash decisions or do things that you will regret later on down the road.

If you're going through a tough personal or academic situation at the moment, then it's probably a good idea to talk with someone about your feelings and get help working through them.

Alcohol can interfere with memory retention- if you're trying to study for an exam, it's best not to drink.

The biggest take-home message from this advice is that you want to make sure your brain is handling all the information it's taking in without getting distracted by alcohol. If you're trying to learn something new, whether it be for a test or just to expand your horizons, then it probably isn't the best idea to drink while studying.

study and drinkingImage by Pexels

Alcohol can affect both short- and long-term memory retention and lead to gaps in learning that can be hard to recover from later on down the road.

If you do decide to have one or two drinks when you're out with your friends, then keep in mind that these effects will not immediately wear off after several hours. A better alternative would be to schedule some time during the day for an intellectual activity or a relaxing period of your choice, and then to have one or two drinks in the late afternoon or evening as a reward for finishing up.

You can even schedule this time on a day off from work if you'd like to take it easy for an entire 24 hour period.

This will help keep you levelheaded when it comes to drinking while studying by allowing you enough time for everything left over from last night's festivities to clear out of your system. While some people are able to learn new information better when they're under the influence of alcohol, most students do much better with just a sip here and there!

Be mindful of the drinks that are available at parties - some may contain high levels of sugar which will increase fatigue and slow down brain function.

The easiest way to prevent this is just by staying away from the punch bowls, jello shots and anything that sounds like it may have a high sugar content. These kinds of drinks will lead to dehydration and make you feel tired even when there is plenty of time left in the party to keep going. Instead, try sticking with beer or wine coolers if you'd like something a little sweeter than tap water.

If you're at a party where alcohol is being served, then be sure not to overdo it on empty stomachs. You'll get drunk faster while feeling less intoxicated the whole time because your body lacks energy that would otherwise be used to break down the alcohol as it's entering your system.

Before drinking any beverages, go ahead and have a small meal such as a bagel or some fruit just to give your body energy to burn through the alcohol. You can prevent getting too wasted before it happens by having an adequate amount of food in your stomach beforehand.

Drinking while Studying - Final Word:

Drinking while studying is a bad idea. Alcohol can make you feel more confident, but it also lowers your ability to think clearly and remember what you just read or heard. Drink water in between alcoholic beverages to prevent dehydration, know your limits - don't use alcohol as a coping mechanism for stressors in your life, and most importantly study sober!

If you're going to drink while studying, have a designated driver or sober friend nearby so they can drive home if necessary.

If you struggle with drinking while studying and are ready to seek help, call a treatment provider today. They can help you find top-rated treatment facilities that will help get your life back on track.

Lead Writer/Reviewer : Kayla Loibl

Licensed Medical Health Professional 


I am a Mental Health Counselor who is licensed in both New York (LMHC) and North Carolina (LCMHC). I have been working in the Mental Health field since 2015. I have worked in a residential setting, an outpatient program and an inpatient addictions program. I began working in Long Island, NY and then in Guelph, Ontario after moving to Canada. Read More

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