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College is a time of newfound freedom. Therefore, these years can be very tempting to students.
In fact, four out of five college students consume alcohol to some degree.
Social activities and sporting events provide easy access to alcohol. What usually starts out as one drink can then turn into two or three - or even more.
Constant drinking, week after week, will cause the body to build a tolerance to alcohol. If this happens, the person will need to consume more alcohol to get the desired effects.
College alcoholism affects many students.
According to a survey, about 53 percent of full-time college students, ages 18 to 22, drank alcohol in the last month. About 33 percent of them also engaged in binge drinking behaviors.
Binge drinking is slightly different for men and women:
It’s a slippery slope from binge drinking to alcoholism. And around 9 percent of full-time college students, ages 18 to 22, meet the criteria for alcoholism.
College students who struggle with alcohol addiction face unique challenges that affect their school work, social lives, and health.
Some side effects of drinking may resolve on their own, going away after a few days. However, others might leave a lasting effect.
Frequent heavy drinking can lead to an alcohol use disorder (AUD). This is why it’s important to recognize the red flags and seek help.
College alcoholism leads to many issues, from health issues to academic problems to assault on college campuses and more.
Some statistics include:
College alcoholism doesn’t only affect the student struggling with alcohol addiction; it involves students, their families, and the college communities.
Drinking alcoholic beverages in college is common for many reasons. Social camaraderie is the most common reason for drinking in college.
College puts students in social situations, and many of these students live outside of their parent’s homes for the first time. They’re invited to parties, attend social gatherings with new people, and deal with novel stressors with schoolwork and sports responsibilities.
All of these factors may drive them to drink.
The first six weeks of freshman year can be the most vulnerable time for many first-year college students. They may face expectations and social pressures at the start of their college careers.
While not all college students drink, it’s very common for first-year students to start experimenting with alcohol.
And, for some who do, experimentation can develop into alcoholism over time.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) and the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), there are three levels of alcohol consumption:
If you want to take note of your alcohol consumption, here are the guidelines:
Up to one drink a day for women and two drinks a day for men.
Heavy alcohol consumption is binge drinking on five or more days per month.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) defines a standard drink as:
Binge drinking is consuming four to five standard drinks in two hours.
Heavy drinking refers to binge drinking five or more days per month. Heavy drinking is a binge-drinking pattern that happens frequently. Heavy drinkers have made a habit out of binge drinking.
College binge drinking is quite common. In 2019, 33 percent of people between 18 and 22 years of age reported binge drinking in the past month. Meanwhile, another 6.3 percent said that they’d engaged in heavy alcohol use in the past month.College Drinking Prevention
Students at colleges with strong Greek systems tend to drink more. Drinking may be part of their fraternity or sorority culture.
Alcohol consumption is higher among students who live with their fraternities or sororities. It is lower among students who live with their families.
Likewise, colleges with prominent sports programs also are high-risk environments for students.
A college alcoholic, or any other alcoholic, will often exhibit signs of alcoholism.
If your college friend is showing any of the following signs, they may have an alcohol use disorder:
If you or someone you know is struggling with AUD, reach out for professional help to stop drinking immediately. If it’s your friend, staging an intervention can help before the situation grows worse.
If you, a friend at college, or someone you know is suffering from AUD or substance abuse, help is available. Here are some addiction treatment options for alcoholic college students to explore:
These facilities are available for anyone who is struggling with a drinking problem.
You can live in the facility, or you can choose to visit for regular checkups with healthcare professionals. These rehab centers are staffed by medical and mental health professionals to aid in a safe recovery.
They often combine various healing techniques. This might include art therapy, traditional talk therapy, meditation techniques, fitness, nutrition, and more.
These organizations can help people with strong religious beliefs on the road to recovery.
Therapies can help you unpack any triggers that are driving you to drink. For example, if stress from college classes or pressure from college sports is taking a toll on you, therapy can help.
There are a variety of therapy approaches to alcohol use disorder.
These groups are available so that no one who is struggling with alcohol use disorder has to go through it alone.
You can talk with other people who are in similar situations. If you have a loved one or a friend who is a struggling alcoholic, you can also attend these support groups.
To search for a treatment facility near you, you can use the government Substance Abuse Treatment Facility Locator.
Reach out to a professional as soon as possible — before the drinking problem gets worse. It’s never too late to ask for help.
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