Alcohol Consumption is Common
Alcohol consumption is common amongst college students. Peer pressure, social norms, alcohol dependency, alcohol related reinforcement influences a college student’s alcohol intake. Four out five college students drink alcohol and two out of five binge drink (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018). Binge drinking can negatively impact a person’s health, academics, social life, and work.
Binge drinking is a common issue amongst college students. There are many reasons why college students binge drink such as peer pressure, social norms, alcohol dependency, and alcohol related reinforcement influences. Drinking is seen as part of the college lifestyle or college culture. Some college students may see their peers drinking and may feel peer pressure into drinking in order to fit into social norms. When attending a party or an event where there is alcohol present, a student’s peers may encourage them to drink and to keep on drinking more. This could be a problem because when a student is peer pressure to continuously drink, that may lead them to consuming more alcohol than their body can handle. Other than peer pressure and social norms another reason why college students might drink is alcohol dependency.
Students who struggle with mental disorders such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia are at greater risks of alcohol abuse. (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018) Heavy drinking and symptoms of depression are both common amongst college students. In a study of 138 heavy drinking college students, participants were surveyed evaluating depressive symptoms and alcohol problems. Results showed that depressive symptoms were associated with substance related reinforcement and alcohol problems (Acuff, et al., 2018). Another study shows that “students with a history of alcohol abuse or alcohol dependency have significantly higher levels of experiential avoidance (Levin, 2012). Students especially those with mental illnesses such as depression and social anxiety may use alcohol to numb the pain and help forget their problems or to help them be more relaxed during social interactions. Student may not be aware about how greatly binge drinking can negatively impact a person’s health and safety.
Most people under the age of 21 who drink alcohol report binge drinking, even though they are not legally permitted to consume alcohol. (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2018). A serving size of alcohol is equivalent to one 12-ounce bottle of beer, one 5-ounce glass of wine, and one 1.5-ounce shot of hard liquor (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018). The blood alcohol content percentage is what is used to determine a person’s level of intoxication. A high blood alcohol content effects a person’s judgement, reaction time, motor skills, concentration, blood temperature, heart rate, and breathing. Excessive drinking can lead to stumbling or falling, mood swings, vomiting, alcohol poisoning, or passing out (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018) Signs of alcohol poisoning are confusion, nausea and vomiting, slowed or irregular breathing, cyanosis or a bluish tint to the skin due to oxygen deprivation, low body temperature or hypothermia, unconsciousness, memory loss of events that happened recently, and seizures. (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018). Chronic alcohol abuse may also lead to long term health problems.
Chronic alcohol abuse can lead to long term health problems such as liver damage, cardiovascular disease, kidney disease, tuberculosis, epilepsy or seizures, gout, or cancer (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018). Frequent binge drinking can lead to liver damage such as inflammation, scarring, cirrhosis, alcohol hepatitis, fatty liver disease, or liver cancer (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018). It can also affect your digestive system causing inflammation in the stomach which may increase the risk of ulcers, chronic heartburn, and gastritis (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018). The intestines will lack the ability to digest important nutrients such as vitamin B12 and thiamine which may lead to malnutrition, problems with blood production, a weakened immune system, and brain damage (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018).
Loss of nutrients increases the risk of osteoporosis and osteoarthritis, which increase the risk of dangerous bone fractures and weak muscles (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018). A weakened immune system increases the risk of catching contagious diseases including pneumonia and tuberculosis (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018). Binge drinking can impact the circulatory system which may lead to high blood pressure, irregular heartbeat, trouble pumping blood through the body, blood clots, stroke, cardiomyopathy, heart attacks, and trouble breathing (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018). Chronic alcohol abuse puts you in greater risk of cancer such as mouth, esophagus, throat, bowel, liver, and breast (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018). Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol does not only put your health at risk but also your safety.
Another consequence to BAC is an inability to form new memories.
When drinking it’s important for a person to remember to space out their drinks, stay hydrated, and to know their limit. Consuming excessive amounts of alcohol can lead to blacking out or passing out. Blacking out and passing out are commonly thought of as the same thing, but they are different. When a person passes out, they are unconscious in a state similar to being asleep. They are unlikely to respond to stimuli like being spoken to or being touched. Alcohol induced amnesia, most commonly known as a blackout is memory loss due to a rapid increase in blood alcohol levels (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018). When a person blacks out they may continue to make decisions, hold conversations, and may even continue to drink. They appear to be conscious but they will not remember what happened.
This is extremely risky as the person may attempt to drive, have sex, or perform other risky behaviors that can lead to permanent harm and even death. When a person’s blood alcohol content reaches 0.08 % they are no longer safe to drive (An American Addictions Centers Resource, 2018). Drinking impairs your judgement, motor skills, and ability to speak properly; this can make people, specifically women, at risk of being a victim of sexual assault or rape. This is not to put the blame on women but being intoxicated does make a person more vulnerable. Perpetrators should be held responsible when taking advantage of another person. When a person is under the influence they are not in the right state of mind and are unable to give consent. In a study involving 1,423 college students, participants reported alcohol consumption, sexual coercion perpetration, and sexual coercion victimization for 30 days across four years of college. Results to the study showed that greater blood alcohol concentration was associated with a higher probability of being a victim and perpetrator of sexual coercion. (Wilhite, Mallard, and Fromme, 2018) Blackouts were also associated with a greater chance of being a victim of sexual coercion. (Wilhite, et al. 2018)