Alcohol Abuse Among College Students Study

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Updated: Mar 28, 2022
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On April 10, 2019, after the professor approved the research proposal, I embarked on a qualitative research study to find out why the problem of alcohol abuse is so rampant among college students. The number of students whose lives is affected in one way or another is astonishingly high. There are the accidental deaths, fatal injuries, and cases of sexual assault which are all consequences of binge drinking yet colleges have failed to effectively implement measures that can help curb the menace.

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As such, the aim of this research was to investigate the problem of alcohol abuse and come up with recommendations that can help to stop more lives from being destroyed at such a young age. The methods used employed qualitative techniques to investigate the issues such as cultural impact on alcohol abuse, effect of mixing drinks with energy drinks, and intervention strategies.

Executive Summary

The problem of substance abuse in colleges is a problem for many parents and administrators who attempt to balance provision of quality education and social life. This study will also investigate what strategy’s college campuses are implementing to regulate the consequences of excessive drinking in college campuses. There is debate that the current strategies are failing and new approaches must be designed to stop the problem.


It is time that the administrators of public universities in America prioritize the issue of alcohol abuse in their respective policies given the negative impact that the behaviour is having on student behaviour and academic performance. The failure of current strategies to curb the immoral behaviour is an indication of the unsuitability or lack of adequate research to investigate the factors that are leading students to turn to alcohol for pleasure or as a stress reliever. The scope of this study is aimed at uncovering the environmental and social factors that predispose students to drinking habits. For instance, the idea that students cannot have fun or socialize without being intoxicated is a serious concern that universities should aim to change the mentality of the students. Any actions decided should have the ability to resolve the environmental and social factors in equal measure, instead of focusing on temporary measures after harmful incidents occur and students are already affected by their binge drinking ways.

Research Methods

The main objective during the literature review was to focus on the reasons why drinking culture is so popular among college students, the factors that impact the prevalence of the drinking culture such as cultural factors, and the available options for helping students curb the drinking culture. The key issue in research was to investigate the roles and responsibilities of students and the administration in the epidemic. To investigate the identified objectives above, it was prudent that the research is divided into four manageable tasks.

The reasons for the extensive drinking behavior in various universities are interesting phenomena given the difference in student composition in each and every university. To understand these reasons, the methodology involved perusing through past research studies to find out the exact reason for student’s drinking behavior. We investigated the role of peer pressure within the student group and how many students agree that they began drinking because their friends pressured them to do so. This is also related to the number of students that start drinking alcohol to fit in with more prominent students. The research study also investigated the number of student engage in alcohol abuse to deal with anxiety in social parties or as a way of dealing with stress.

The research will be essential in this study because it will help in drawing conclusions on the possible cultural differences between binge drinking in the United States and binge drinking in other countries. This was aimed at looking the trends and patterns in drinking habits among foreign students, African Americans, Whites, and other minority groups. There are assumptions that certain communities like to party and entertainment. As such, this study looked to investigate if the cultural customs of a student is likely to lead to increased alcohol intake. For instance, the more religious customs such as Muslims exhibit lower intake of alcohol compared to other cultures.

The study is relevant to the research because it creates a secondary connection between alcohol and energy drinks that can worsen the effects of binge drinking. Such an association can lead to further research or even motivate intervention strategies that target both alcohol and energy drinks to tackle solutions of the alcohol and energy epidemic. The lack of knowledge among students on which food and lifestyle that a person who drinks could lead to the harmful outcomes mentioned. For instance, the number of deaths due to alcohol abuse that are attributable to preventable measures such as knowing which drinks interact perilously.

The research will look at some of the factors that lead to why colleges’ alcohol prevention strategies failed. Further research will look on what is being done to prevent binge drinking such as students attending compulsory alcohol counseling sessions and other resources available to students. Additionally, why the previous strategies did applied failed to prevent the problem from spreading to every new crop of undergraduates students who join campus. Additionally, the research wanted to investigate why universities only feel the urge to address the problem when a bad case happens involving death or sexual assault. The precarious situation whereby the intake of alcohol is a constitutional right, as such, to what extent can the recommended actions interfere with this right before the school is considered liable for impeding the rights of students.


This section expounds on the information collected in each of the tasks identified in the above section.

Many high school graduates join university with the idea that campus life is for enjoying one’s youth and attending all the rave parties before they are forced into adulthood and the accompanying responsibilities. The main problems arise when the fun drinking turns into addiction or binge drinking, which has possible health effects. Alcohol intake is also highlighted as a problem when the daily functioning of the student is impeded, the social life starts to deteriorate, and the notable effect on the physical health (Cho et al., 2015). The most common reason among students who engage in excessive drinking was the need to relieve the stress factors contributed by the demanding academic schedule of university life. Many students noted that they began to drink alcohol to help deal with anxiety in social places especially involving friends of the opposite sex. Other reasons that came up were alcohol helped the students have fun or fit in with the cool group.

There is this flawed notion among students that African Americans are the social group in the campus that hold the best parties and thus more likely to engage in harmful alcohol intake. According to Milroy and colleagues (2015), there are underlying sociocultural factors that contribute to the unique relation between alcohol and students. There are cultural customs in many communities that have practices which require participants to take alcohol. Among the least drinking communities, the Muslim student fraternity does not engage in heavy drinking in parties. However, African Americans and Whites were the most drinking cultural communities in American universities. The cultural values of White Americans provide students with the freedom to engage in such activities without the fear of being reprimanded by the parents (Amaro et al., 2016). On the other hand, the African American students have this customary group mentality and need to fit in among themselves that easily encourages students to engage in activities that they would normally abstain from.

The essence of this section explained the reasons for the high number of fatal injuries among students who lack the requisite knowledge in responsible drinking. The energy industry in America has garnered popularity among many students who partake in the drinking thinking that it helps with energizing the body with energy to negate the intoxication caused by alcoholic drinks. In some cases, students have this creative element that they use to mix drinks and create new flavors such as lean. The energy drinks are concentrated with caffeine which interacts with alcohol to counteract the sedative feeling. The students are left in s situation whereby they are wide awake yet drunk (Fenwick, 2017). As such, they are likely to engage in further drinking past the healthy limit. This is likely to cause alcohol poisoning or caffeine overdose.

In this section, it became apparent that most of the measures introduced as policies for regulating substance abuse in colleges is based on circumstances involving alcohol abuse. As such, the measures are temporary and fail to fully resolve the problem. For instance, the use of message boards and advertisements in school notice boards does not have the desired effect on the behavior of students who partake in alcohol intake.


From the results collected above, the involved stakeholders should note that substance abuse is a mental health issue that progresses depending on the behavior of the student. The wait and see approach implemented by many universities till an incident happens involving one of their students contributes to the increased involvement of other students. From the first task, it is evident that the university culture contributes to the drinking behavior among students. For instance, the freedom that many students suddenly have on campus unlike high school leads students to test new behaviors that are likely to stick after a period of time.

The interventions that are applicable in the case above should contain a mixture of person-centered and communal strategies that help resolve the problem as a whole. While it is important to note that the interventions could have detrimental effects in the short-term (withdrawal effects), every party involved will gain in the long run. There is also the misconception that alcohol intake in university is a part of life that every party lover has to go through. However, there should be measures to identify the harmful drinking habits from habitual drinkers. Additionally, the myths that alcohol abuse is sometimes hinged on cultural factors derail the personal decision that students make every time they drink alcohol. Students should be encouraged to practice responsibility for one’s actions (Messina, Tseng, & Correia, 2015).


Option One: Banning the sale of alcohol on campus grounds and the opening of bars within a 300 meters radius from the school boundary. The advantage of this policy is that it will reduce the ease of access among students to alcoholic drinks. Additionally, the parties held within school grounds will have the students interacting in a somber mood and probably learn to have fun without dependency on alcohol-induced confidence (Amaro et al., 2016). The concerns raised among education experts regarding this policy is that it might lead to prospective students thinking that the university experience in schools that have banned alcohol is missionary-like and does not meet the standards of university experience expected. However, the benefits outweigh the concerns. Campuses are a diverse environment that has underage students and other people who dislike association with alcohol. Implementation of the above policy ensures that the administration is cognizant of the needs of the whole fraternity rather than pleasing a few who want to engage in immoral behavior.

Option Two: Introduction of mandatory counseling programs for students who violate even the slightest of substance abuse rules and regulations. This approach is an attempt to alleviate the limitations of the educational program in creating behavioral change among students. According to evidence-based research, early intervention among probable candidates for substance abuse led to reduction in drug intake (Mcmurtrie, 2018). The importance of therapy is that can initiate behavioral change as students are encouraged to share their concerns in a confidential environment. Additionally, the therapy sessions can be used to create focus groups where the members share their experiences and encourage one another to stop drinking


  1. Amaro, H., Raj, A., Vega, R. R., Mangione, T. W., & Perez, L. N. (2016). Racial/ethnic disparities in the HIV and substance abuse epidemics: Communities responding to the need. Public Health Reports.
  2. Cho, S. B., Llaneza, D. C., Adkins, A. E., Cooke, M., Kendler, K. S., Clark, S. L., & Dick, D. M. (2015). Patterns of substance use across the first year of college and associated risk factors. Frontiers in psychiatry, 6, 152.
  3. Fenwick, A. (2017, April 28). The Real Reasons Why Drinking Culture is So Prominent in College. Retrieved March/April, 2019,
  4. Mcmurtrie, Beth. The Chronicle of Higher Education, B. (2018, January 19). Why Colleges Haven’t Stopped Binge Drinking. Retrieved March/April, 2019,
  5. Messina, B. G., Tseng, A., & Correia, C. J. (2015). Measuring alcohol-related consequences and motives among students attending historically Black colleges and universities. Addictive behaviors, 46, 5-9.
  6. Milroy, J. J., Orsini, M. M., Wyrick, D. L., Fearnow-Kenney, M., Wagoner, K. G., & Caldwell, R. (2015). Implementing an alcohol and other drug use prevention program using University–High school partnerships: Challenges and lessons learned. American Journal of Health Education, 46(5), 310-313.
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Alcohol Abuse among College Students Study. (2021, May 17). Retrieved from