Binge Drinking Among College Students

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Updated: Apr 03, 2021
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“There has been increase in binge drinking among college students and it has been a major health concern. National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has identified alcohol abuse as most health concern for college students because of high rate the college students are drinking heavily and the negative consequences that are alcohol related (Bravo, A.). Binge drinking is defined as having five or more drinks for male and having four or more drinks for female within two hours. More than 40% of college students are binge drinkers. Large number of college students drink alcohol even though they are under the legal drinking age (Wrye, B.).

Many factors determine the binge drinking among college students. Such factors are age, sex and race. About 80% of college students drink alcohol at some point in their college life. People start binge drinking because of stress, anxiety, insecurity, relationship. People who started drinking at early age, before 16 were more likely to binge drink. Many other factors determine binge drinking such as having antisocial personality disorder, drinking to cope, drinking to fit in, sex-seeking motivation, drinking to get drunk, displaying problem behavior, depression, using other substances, social influences. Binge drinking has been positively linked with neurotismanxiety and impulsive sensation seeking. Women who binge drink are more likely to be neurotismanxiety and men who binge drink are more like to be impulsive sensation seeking (Krieger, H).

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There is also predisposed factor for alcohol use. Genetic susceptibility can influence the negative and positive effect of alcohol use. Male, Caucasian, students who are member of Greek organization, students coping with psychological distress and campuses near alcohol outlets, access to cheap drinks, students who do not care about the negative consequences of alcohol.

Many college students drink as a copying motive to help with negative affect. They drink because they want to cope with the negative affect such as depression and drinking provide immediate relief. College students expect drinking alcohol to have positive benefit of coping with negative affect and start drinking. Drinking to cope then increases the risk of having alcohol related problems. So, people with depression display higher rate of alcohol related problems (Bravo, A.).

College students start drinking because they are away from their parents and they are in new environment with new faces and problems without their high school friends. As a new students they try to fit in and seek acceptance and try to behave of the social norm and influences by drinking. Drinking alcohol is seen as the rite of passage for college students and students fall into the peer pressure (Wrye, B.). Peer pressure is among leading reason for alcohol use. Students living off campus and living in Greek housing are more likely to take part in binge drinking because they have no restriction and are free do to what they want. Many individuals are influenced to drink because of social relationship. College students who have alcoholic parents or who have friend who drinks are more likely to binge drink (Krieger, H). Individual also drink to fit in with peers.

Alcohol related problems are highly prevalent among college students and these consequences range from mild to severe. College student binge drink alcohol and it has negative effect on the health and wellbeing. About 20 percent of college students display the sign of Alcohol Use Disorder (Consequences of College Drinking). Binge drinking can lead to many negative consequences such as violence, injury, addiction, sexual abuse, physical diseases and even death and also negative behavior poor academic performance, riding with a driver who has been drinking, being sexually active, smoking tobacco products, being a victim of dating violence, attempting suicide and using illicit drugs (Wrye, B.).
Depression is positively related to alcohol use and alcohol related problems. People who are have mental illness such as depression are more likely to attempt suicide. People who have depression are more likely to drink in solitary. About 22.6% of solitary binge drinker and 8.5% of social binge drinkers have reported suicide attempt. American college students have high rate of suicidal behavior and ideation (Gonzalez, V. M.). There is a link between alcohol use and suicidal thoughts and attempts. College students who have suicidal thought are more likely to binge drink and have alcohol problems. And those students with alcohol problem are more likely to attempt suicide. Students who binge drink were twice as likely to have thoughts of suicide (Krieger, H).

Many male college students have sex-seeking motivation to binge drink. College students who binge drink are more likely to be sexually abused or have unplanned sex (Krieger, H). Male are more likely to binge drink because they feel the pressure to be seen as masculine. Many students binge drink to get to the goal of sexual gratification without any social restriction or guilt with such behavior.

Another reason behind alcohol use is the advertisement and marketing of alcohol. Many alcohol sale and promotions near colleges capture the attention of college students and influence the alcohol use. Many social media display alcohol use in positive light and college students perceive drinking as positive. Many students binge drink and this goes against their moral code, when a person goes against their moral then their moral disengagement increases then the individual is more likely to use alcohol in risky manner. The moral disengagement justifies any action disapproved by the society (Wrye, B.).
Many college student drink heavily in occasions of celebration such as 21st birthday party, spring break. Especially in spring break many college student get drunk and result in blackouts or passing out and also get in trouble with police. College students also drink heavily on 21st birthday celebrations.
Drinking heavily have very negative effect on health and wellbeing of people. Some of the impact alcohol has on college students are developing health issue, developing mental health issues, assault, sexual assault and rape, injuries and accidents, performing poorly in classes, committing criminal activities. Heavy drinking can have negative effect on the academics of college students. “About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall ” (Consequences of College Drinking). Students who binge drinks are more likely to have alcohol poisoning, rape and assault, blackouts, car accidents, unintentional injury and poor academic performance. About 25% of college students missed classes, have not completed their assignment and poor grades because of their drinking and also were not productive the next day of binge drinking (Wrye, B.)

Heavy drinking has negative effect on health of college students. Even drinking heavily once can have severe impact such as inflammation and damage to the heart. The alcohol has toxic effects in the body and have alcohol poisoning and symptoms of alcohol poisoning include vomiting, slow and irregular breathing, hypothermia, mental confusion, stupor and even death.

Another problem that is related to heavy alcohol use is sleep disturbance. Some of the most common problems of college students is sleep disturbance along with heavy drinking. About 70 percent of college students have sleep disturbance. Sleep disturbance include short sleep duration, excessive daytime sleeping, irregular sleep schedule, poor sleep quality, insomnia and other sleep-related impairments. Heavy drinking before bedtime can reduce the time it takes to fall asleep. Also, binge drinking also decreases REM sleep and the onset of REM sleep. Sleep disturbance and heavy drinking has negative effect on the mental and physical health of student as well as academic performance. It also has increased risk of getting injured in motor vehicle accidents. Motor vehicle is also among the leading cause of death for college students (Fucito, L.).

College students who binge drink having sleep disturbance also experience more alcohol effect such as blackout and interpersonal problems. College students who binge drink commonly had sleep disturbance was excessive daytime sleeping and this would affect the academic performance because they would miss classes due to oversleeping. Also excessive sleeping would also reduce the productivity of the students. However college students who drink moderately, stated that drinking alcohol helped them sleep faster and better (Fucito, L.).

Heavy drinking has negative effect on mental health of college students. Binge drinking also have negative effect on cognitive function because the high concentration of alcohol is entering the bloodstream quickly. Many students experience blackouts and fail to remember or have memories of the time of binge drinking. Students who binge drink also experience decrease in cognitive functions such as recall, spatial recognition, search and planning task. Extreme binge drinking display EEG similar to individual with alcohol use disorder which shows that binge drinking can affect the brain in negative and permanent manner.
Prospective memory (PM) is being able to remember and perform a intended task at some point in future. Prospective memory is important for function such as completing an assignments, maintaining appointments. The prospective memory is affected by heavy alcohol use. Prospective memory requires hippocampal activity and PFC and this is affected by heavy alcohol use. Hippocampus functions in remembering the task and PFC function in remembering to remember (ZAMROZIEWICZ, M.).

Students who binge drink are likely to have memory loss, not use protection during sex, engage in unplanned sex and get hurt or injured and have alcohol poisoning and have overdoes and need for medical treatment. Heavy drinking leads to intoxication and leads to cognitive function impairments such as decision making, impulse control, reduced motor skills such as balance and hand-eye coordination and these impairments increases the risk of injuries and getting into accidents (White, A).

Blackouts are time of amnesia where an individual is engaging in behavior but the brain is not able to create memories. The blackouts caused by alcohol use were because of rise in blood alcohol quickly. Black outs are different than passing out where in passing out, an individual is asleep or is unconscious from heavy drinking. When an individual experience blackouts, that individual engages in activities such as eating, getting into fights, even sexual intercourse however, they are not able to recall the incidents (White, A).

Heavy drinking also has negative effect on the social relationship. Many students who binge drink also have negative effect on their relationship. Students who binge drink are more likely to argue with friends, get into physical fights, and have strain in their relationship.

Individual drinking before college are predicted of excessive drinking in college. The students who drink excessively will fall behind in school work, do something regretful while drinking, experience a memory blackout, have unplanned sex, fail to use birth control during sex, damage property, get in trouble with police, drive after drinking, or get injured (White, A). Heavy drinking can result on being assaulted or assaulting other individual. “696,000 students who are between the age group of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been intoxicated” (Consequences of College Drinking).
Binge drinking not just affect the drinker, it also affect non – binge drinkers. The non-binge drinkers are also likely to experience the consequences of other’s alcohol use such as being disturbed while studying or sleeping, being sexually assaulted or victim of sexual assault, having their property damaged or getting involved in physical violence(White, A).

About 20 percent of experienced sexual assault in college. While intoxicated male are likely to commit sexual assault because they will interpret the female gesture as interested in sex. And about 72 percent of women reported being raped who were intoxicated at the time (White, A). These rape victims were weakened and unable to defend themselves because of being intoxicated. Heavy drinking can result in sexual assault/ rape especially female college students. “97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape” (Consequences of College Drinking).
Heavy drinking can lead to Injuries and accidents among college students. “1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes” (Consequences of College Drinking). Heavy drinking leads to intoxication and leads to cognitive function impairments such as decision making, impulse control, reduced motor skills such as balance and hand-eye coordination and these impairments increases the risk of injuries and getting into accidents (White, A).

Many factor also help with college students not binge drinking. Such factors are cultural. In many culture, parents disapprove of their children drinking and this can protect them against binge drinking. Many students are afraid of their parent whether what they will think or what they will do or they respect their parents to not follow their direction and not drink. Many religion are against drinking and this protect against binge drinking.

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Binge Drinking Among College Students. (2021, Apr 03). Retrieved from