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College is truly the gateway to adulthood for millions of Americans. At college, students can learn to thrive and discover what they are interested in and passionate about. Unfortunately, many students also discover the habit of drinking alcohol, and they may not fully understand the severe consequences of such activity.

It’s important to realize that many addictions begin with binge drinking in college. Kids think they are just out having fun, living like normally college students do, but they may not fully understand that they are setting themselves up for some very dangerous habits. Drinking too much alcohol too often can lead college-age students down a self-destructive path.

Leaving the Nest and Going to College

College is a time of many changes for fresh-faced 17 and 18-year-olds. Not only are many moving away from home for the first time and living on their own, but they are also faced with some confronting situations: budgeting, relationships, friendships, and future careers. It’s completely normal and understandable that many adolescents want to get out from under their parent’s roof when it comes to going to college. Choosing where to go to college and actually making the move is a big decision that has long term effects, and there’s often a pressure to perform and fit in with peers.

heavy drinking in school going to collegeIn order to cope with these natural stresses, many students turn to new friendships and social groups, which often include alcohol. While in some ways its a normal part of growing up and going to college, it’s important that students remember that their education comes first, and that they don’t need to drink to have fun. When they lose sight of their goals and become too involved in their social scene and drinking, the consequences can be very costly.

This is a legitimate concern, particularly due to alarming trends of binge drinking in college. As the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found, 37.9 percent of college students ages 18–22 reported binge drinking in the past month compared with 32.6 percent of other persons in the same age group. Similarly, the 2016 Monitoring the Future College Students and Young Adults Survey found that 40.8% of college students reported being intoxicated/drunk in the past month, compared to 30.4% of their non-college peers. That’s enough binge drinkers and intoxicated college-age people to raise serious alarms about overall drinking habits and drinking culture in college.

Sororities and Fraternities: Binge Drinking to Be Accepted in Social Groups

heavy drinking in college frat partiesEveryone wants to be accepted and well-liked, college students included. For many, if they see and hear about other kids drinking they may feel like that’s something they have to do too. While this isn’t actually the case, and drinking is not the only way to have a good time in college, it’s easy to understand how students can fall into the trap of peer pressure. This is especially true for those who go to colleges and universities with sororities and fraternities. While these social organizations can bring their benefits, some can also encourage dangerous drinking habits in which heavy drinking in college is celebrated rather than frowned upon.

heavy drinking in college drunk girl at partyThere’s also the very real concern over hazing at frat houses. Although there has been a crackdown on this behavior in recent years, there’s still plenty of fraternities that have tests or hazing challenges that may involve alcohol and drugs. It’s certainly not unheard of for fraternities to force pledges to show their loyalty by drinking ridiculous and even life-threatening levels of alcohol. Then there’s also the added danger of drugs, which sadly run rampant in many college communities. It’s crucial to be aware of how college parties can be dangerous when mixing alcohol and drugs. Students who slip up and make mistakes, or experience trauma during this time of life changes can encourage a self-medicating behavior of drugs and alcohol that can last a lifetime and prove deadly if they aren’t careful.

Scholarships and Heavy Drinking: Bad Grades Due to Partying

There are plenty of problems associated with heavy drinking habits, with an individual’s physical, mental, and emotional health taking the brunt of it. It’s also important to remember that students are, at college to learn and achieve a bigger, brighter future. They are not there to drink themselves to death. If students find themselves struggling to keep up with their school work and constantly thinking about alcohol and when they can have their next drink, it may be time for an inpatient treatment program so that they can get their lives back on track.

heavy drinking in college bad grades too much partyingToo much heavy drinking can have a huge effect on grades, as alcohol consumption and the subsequent recovery period during hangovers can cut into precious homework and studying time. If students are spending more time worrying about drinking with their friends, and less time concentrating on their studies, then they really need to do some deep self-reflection and reconsider their current lifestyle. Out-of-control alcohol consumption can lead to the development of bad habits, such as missing class, skipping work, waking up drunk, and more long nights of partying. All of these poor decisions can have a negative effect of scholarship status if grades drop too low. While no students should want to risk losing their scholarship funds, it’s unfortunately far too common that smart students with so much potential fall into the trap of alcoholism. In fact, the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study found that roughly 20 percent of students meet the criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder. That means 1 in 5 students in any given college classroom are struggling greatly with the temptations of alcohol.

Heavy drinking can take a toll on students, to say the least. It’s not uncommon for binge drinking to lead to other problems that quickly spiral out of control. As the most recent statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) demonstrate, drinking in college students ages 18 to 24 contributes to an estimated 1,519 student deaths annually. Furthermore, there are an estimated 696,000 student assaults by their intoxicated peers, and 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape every year, with countless more left unreported.

Mixing Adderall and Alcohol

Yet another concern to consider is the combination of alcohol with prescription medications. Alcohol and Adderall is the perfect example of a potentially lethal combination. Although Adderall is a common prescription medicine used to treat Attention-deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), it is often misused and abused by students who take it without doctor’s orders.

Heavy drinking in college mixing alcohol and study pillsMany students take Adderall unprescribed because they’ve heard about others doing it for fun and to decrease the stress from college. Adderall is a stimulant and mixing it with alcohol can have dire results. It’s never a good idea to combine two substances, particularly Adderall and alcohol because these two together can cause heart problems, convulsions, alcohol poisoning, and even death. A study looking at drug use in college students found that 69% of respondents who had used an illicit drug had experienced at least one negative consequence as a result of their actions. Those who combine these drugs, whether they be prescription medicines like Adderall or hardcore street drugs, with alcohol may experience terrifying trouble as a result.

That’s why it’s so important to teach college students about the true dangers of drinking and encourage them to have a positive relationship with their peers and loved ones so that they have people to turn to when the going gets tough. The more resources they have, the less likely they are to become dependent on alcohol. If you need help with a college student you know, or you’re a college student yourself who is struggling with alcohol, remember that you are not alone.