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Alcohol Abuse in College

Editor Dan Schimmel, LCSW, CAP
Created On
Updated On

Many say that alcohol is a “rite of passage” for college students that are transitioning into adulthood. Many young adults are experimenting with alcohol; some in moderation, others get out of control and are at risk of the serious dangers of alcohol abuse. Research funded by the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that 4 out of 5 college students drink alcohol, with nearly 60% of college students under age, 18 to 20 years old.

The Dangers of Drinking

Alcohol use and young adults can be a deadly combination. The college students are young and naive having just left the comforts of their childhood home to live on their own. Lets face it, many young adults are known for their poor decision making, put that with alcohol and the consequences can be devastating.

Assault and Rape

Alcohol can change the behavior of the person, this can change a friendly person to someone who is aggressive and easily agitated. Studies show that nearly 700,000 students ages 18 to 24 are assaulted each year by another student who has been drinking. Drinking alcohol can bring out the worst in people, over 97,000 college students are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.

Alcohol Poisioning

Binge drinking where students consume 4 or more alcoholic beverages in one night is common on college campuses. These students are drinking at parties, clubs and bars in excess. Their bodies are unable to process the alcohol, risking alcohol poisoning, liver and kidney failure, even death.

Drinking and Driving / Alcohol Related Injuries

Many young adults make the foolish choice to drink and then drive. They feel invisible and Approximately having made it home drunk driving before makes them feel as if they are safe. Approximately 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related injuries, many caused by motor vehicle crashes. Others caught drinking and driving face serious legal repercussions due to their actions, some ending their academic careers and forever altering their futures

Tolerance and Addiction

Regular use of alcohol can lead to the development of a tolerance. In a young adult they will continue to feed their bodies alcohol to acheive the desired effects, ignore the amount they are consuming. As the regularity of alcohol use increases along with the quantity these young adults are at great risk of developing a physical and psychological dependency to alcohol. When addiction to alcohol their lives will be turned up side down, their college education comes second to their addiction to alcoholism. Without treatment alcoholism will take over and they will loose control of their lives.

The Culture of College Drinking

In regards to the culture of college drinking, the theory that college drinking is a form of rite of passage for young adults appears once again. Parents and educators agree and feel that this is a serious problem, taking far to many young lives each year. NIAAA’s recent research shows that over 40% of college students reported binge drinking 2 weeks prior to their survey. Each and everyone of these students are at risk of alcohol poisoning, assault, STD’s, health effects, legal repercussions to their actions due to alcohol and even death.

Parents, educators and professionals offering preventative and treatment services all agree that something needs to be done to alter the culture of college drinking. NIAAA has created “rapid-response grants” that approaches the serious issue of alcohol abuse on college campuses. The objective of these grants is to provide colleges with the funds needed to approach the issues with student drinking. The approach used will challenge the culture of college drinking by influence the students behavior.


1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.

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