The Sobering Facts of Binge Drinking and Its Effect on College Students

By: Kelly Solana

Binge drinking and alcohol consumption have long plagued college campuses across the country. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. That percentage is typically reached when men consume more than 5 drinks and women consume more than 4 drinks within a 2 hour time span. Most college presidents agree that the most serious problems on college campuses is binge drinking and while the rates vary between colleges, many schools face the problem and it seems the statistics on binge drinking on college campuses aren’t looking any better.

According to Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 92% of U.S. adults who drink excessively report binge drinking as of recently. The center also provides information that states that the portion of current drinkers that binge drink is highest in those individuals that are between 18 and 20 years old. The Center for Science in the Public Interest, which is an organization dedicated to highlighting and showing the effects of alcohol usage and the social consequences of drinking, released information that showed that 44% of students attending 4-year colleges drink alcohol at the binge level or higher. The center also reported that 48% of college drinkers said they drink to get drunk and list it as an important reason for drinking. In addition to that statistic, 25% of those drink alcohol 10 or more times a month and 29% of those report being intoxicated at least 3 times a month.

Perhaps even more worrisome than the statistics about college students and alcohol is the damaging and irreversible effects that alcohol abuse has on the body. Alcohol abuse is known to lead to several health issues that can include liver disease, neurological damage, pancreatic diseases, certain cancers, high blood pressure, stroke, and other cardiovascular diseases. Other health problems include alcohol poisoning, unintentional injuries, having a child born with fetal alcohol spectrum disorders, and poor control of diabetes. Alcohol use is also the second-leading cause of dementia, as one simply ages faster when he or she consumes alcohol. In addition, research published in a prior issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research found that binge drinking has negative behavioral consequences that affect not only a person’s mood but their cognitive performance as well.

Alcohol abuse is not only doing irreparable damage to the body, but it affects the lives of other individuals as well due to alcohol-related accidents. According to Welcome to College Drinking: Changing the Culture, which was created by the National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes. The organization also reports that 599,000 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol and about 25% of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including not making it to class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams and assignments, and receiving lower grades. In addition, 31% of college students met the criteria for an alcohol abuse diagnosis.

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