College is often the first time many young Americans are free to act on their own volition with little supervision from their parents. College is also notorious for widespread underage drinking and excessive partying.
Drinking has become a largely accepted staple of life in the United States, but many students are developing serious drinking habits at younger ages including blackout drinking on college campuses. Not only do these habits interfere with students’ ability to pursue their degrees, they also create new cases of alcohol addiction.
It’s important to understand the dangers of binge drinking. While the practice is never truly safe for anyone, college students are at particular risk in an environment that often encourages it. Binge drinking at a younger age predisposes young people to the long-term health problems resulting from alcohol abuse.
Drinking on College Campuses
How did blackout drinking on college campuses come to rise in popularity? It begins with the practice of binge drinking – consuming five or more alcoholic drinks in one session. Studies from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reveal that:
- Almost 60% of college students between the ages of 18 and 22 drank alcohol within the month prior to the study.
- Two out of three college students engaged in binge drinking in the last month.
The party culture of American college life encourages many young people to engage in binge drinking on a consistent basis.
Drinking Has Dire Consequences
Binge drinking has disastrous short-term consequences for many college students and predisposes them to significant long-term health complications as well:
- Researchers estimate that more than 1,800 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die every year from alcohol-related injuries.
- Nearly 700,000 students 18 to 24 years old suffer assaults from other students who have been drinking each year.
- More than 97,000 students between 18 and 24 also report alcohol-related sexual assault and date rape on American campuses each year.
In addition to suffering from crimes and injuries, alcohol abuse and binge drinking at college cause other significant issues. About 25 percent of American college students report having suffered negative academic consequences due to alcohol abuse.
Binge drinking often leads to:
- Falling behind in classes
- Missing deadlines for assignments
- Scoring poorly on exams
- Failing to communicate with professors
Blackout Drinking on College Campuses Can Lead to Addiction
Students who regularly engage in binge drinking often experience blackouts, or periods of time they cannot recall the following day. Many students choose to deal with stress by drinking so much they forget what was causing them to feel stress. Not only is this an extremely unhealthy coping technique, it also greatly increases the chances of progressing into alcoholism.
Alcohol also affects people differently. Some students, who cannot metabolize alcohol as quickly or as efficiently as others, may feel pressured to drink much more than they normally would. Alcohol is fatal in large enough doses, and alcohol poisoning kills an average of six people in the United States every day.
During blackouts, students may find out later about things they did while under the influence or things done to them by others. This can sometimes include rape, sexual assault, or engaging in destructive criminal acts against the public, such as vandalism and drunk driving.
Blackouts can leave students vulnerable to countless traumas – another reason students should do their best to limit their alcohol consumption.
What Are Colleges Doing About the Problem?
Social drinking and blackout drinking have become so ingrained into the expected American college experience that students are beginning to consider alcohol consumption a right. In light of the startling statistics concerning alcohol abuse among college students, many universities have attempted to enact new policies aimed at limiting binge drinking opportunities.
Unfortunately, a very vocal, activism-minded generation of college students have met these new measures with fierce resistance, often decrying the universities that enact these policies as oppressive.
Why Aren’t Colleges Doing More?
Many universities rely on alumni contributions to continue operations, and many former students fervently defend campus rituals and traditions that are often major drinking opportunities. Many of these events lead students to drink excessively, and administrators often feel pressured to let them carry on as usual or risk losing alumni support.
Additionally, when the press shows students rallying against their universities, for virtually any reason, it almost always casts the students in a sympathetic light. As a result, new policies may lead to a school appearing more authoritative and restrictive than others, which may impact new student enrollment rates and thus, revenue.
Even student deaths don’t seem to be enough to enact tighter alcohol policies at American universities. Tailgate events, dorm parties, fraternity and sorority parties all fall under most universities’ alcohol restrictions, but fewer than half of colleges in the country consistently enforce these rules.
Finding Help for Alcohol Abuse
Whenever college students start down a path of regular binge drinking, it quickly leads to alcohol addiction. If you or a loved one is struggling with substance abuse, it’s crucial to seek reliable treatment as soon as possible. TTC Care in southern Florida offers individualized treatment plans to help young adults recover from binge drinking habits and destructive behaviors.