Binge Drinking: when does it Become a Problem?

As a new student entering college, you are presented with many choices you have to pick from that may occur from the new environment you are in. These choices may either be when to study, what classes to study for, or how to balance your social life in between school. Throughout the two or four years that are otherwise known as the best years of your life, the number of students that are considered “binge drinkers” are rising and the consequences are starting to show. These consequences could come in the form of hangovers, health issues, or it could even affect those around you. However, the hangovers and sickness are not the only consequences of these abusing ways. Studies are showing there are long-term side effects as well. As a young adult in college, you may not see the long term or short-term effects right away but they will happen. For some this may result in liver damage or alcohol poisoning at a young stage in your life. Not only are there physical aspects, but there are some psychological effects as well. I believe if students are informed about the risks of drinking irresponsibly, the rate of problems that has been caused by alcohol will decline instantly.

Students may use the outlet of drinking and consumption of other drugs as a form of socializing. But is it really a good idea as it seems? The tradition of drinking has almost developed into the “culture” or “lifestyle” in every level of the college student environment. The lifestyle of these students is typically handed down from generation to generation. The perception on these drinking habits are made to look as if you need to survive as a college student but ultimately it leads to alcoholism. Students gain expectations on drinking from each other, as they depend on it, pressure each other as they face a new environment and try to be socially accepted.

When in college, students start to express their freedom of leaving their parents and often take advantage of that. The most common action for a human is to adapt to their surroundings. That fatal trait can be both good or bad in specific aspects. Many students often enter college with an extensive knowledge upon alcohol and drug abuse on and off campus. Usually, these students get a hands-on experiment with these substances from peers. Greek life in college plays a huge part in this becoming a normal activity at functions. According to a Harvard University study, “4 out of 5 fraternity and sorority members are binge drinkers. In comparison, other research suggests 2 out of 5 college students overall are regular binge drinkers.” (“Binge Drinking in Greek Organizations”). Students who are members of fraternities and sororities are at a higher risk for binge drinking and drug use than the rest of the college population. The lack of supervision upon the Greek life and social pressure that is put upon the incomers play a significant role in the increasing number of drinkers on college campuses. Typically, there are no resident assistants or rule enforcers inside Greek housing to keep drinking levels down to a minimum. The leaders of fraternities and sororities are always upperclassmen who are still relatively young themselves. Also, due to the positive economic impact of having certain fraternities or sororities represented at their school, campus officials are going to be very selective when looking towards any Greek infused activities. The social pressure aspect of this problem comes with the hope of establishing a strong social bond, they can be especially vulnerable to the social pressures that come with membership. If a student believes binge drinking or drug use will make them seem more fun or cool, they are more likely to do so. Peer pressure, or the direct or indirect encouragement from one’s own age group to engage in activities that they may or may not want to engage in (Santor, Messervey, & Kusumakar, 2000), is a major factor in the development of risk-taking behaviors.

Now while students are heavily influenced by their peers when consuming alcohol, many universities are bound to have drinking related problems simply due to location. Colleges often are put in difficult situations that pertain to on and off campus issues that include alcohol due to the current location of their respected university. A school that suffers from this problem is the College of Charleston, located in the downtown area of Charleston, South Carolina. In the article, “Former College of Charleston files lawsuit against fraternity”, author Kolbie Satterfield states “In August of 2017, the school recently underwent a lawsuit from a former student speaking out upon a beating he endured by his intoxicated fraternity brothers.” (1). The members of this fraternity recently were intoxicated after visiting a local bar and reportedly beat the student leaving him unconscious after the student was kicked out an initiation party. According to Niche, a respected scholarly article upon colleges, College of Charleston ranks #37 of 1,520 in top party schools in America with a part scene grade of an A+. These two rankings can be thankful for the university only being five minutes away from downtown Charleston. The downtown area is known for being the home of the famous bar called “Recovery Room Tavern”. According to Culture Trip, this bar is currently ranked the best bar in the area. Richard Tulis, writer of Culture Trip, a global network that operates in travel, states that “Charleston is a vibrant City and the city’s bar scene reflects that. The Recovery Room Tavern is consisted of wings, beer, and an excellent place to shoot pool and hang lively with friends.” (par 2). This becomes an issue when you have young college students who are influenced by the night lights in the area and have no control over themselves.

The effects that abuse of alcohol has on the human body and the mind. Author of New York Times article, Author, Beth McMurtrie, writer of the article “Why Colleges haven’t stopped binge drinking” suggest that throughout the four years that are otherwise known as the best years of your life, college students are becoming more adaptive to the drinking lifestyle. More than 1,800 students die every year of alcohol-related causes. An additional 600,000 are injured while drunk, and nearly 100,000 become victims of alcohol-influenced sexual assaults. One in four say their academic performance has suffered from drinking. The binge-drinking rate among college students has hovered above 40 percent for two decades (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism). Ashley Miller, writer of “The Effects of Drugs & Alcohol on College Campuses” states her claim that alcohol and illicit drugs effect the body in more than one way and have long lasting effects mentally and physically. “Alcohol and drugs don’t have to kill you to have a serious impact on your physical and psychological health; they also damage your organs, cause brain dysfunction and alter your perceptions, emotions and senses causing you to take dangerous or unnecessary risks and even lead to mental health disorders like depression.” (4). I agree with her claim because alcohol may give you a good feeling at the moment but the human mind often gets dependent of it and cause people to transfer into alcoholics. She also writes that “alcohol and substance abuse among college students has a number of serious, detrimental effects on both the individual and campus levels.” In 2010, 22 percent of college students admitted to using illicit drugs, and 63.3 percent of college students identified as heavy drinkers, according to the results from the 2011 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (Summary of National Findings).

This raises concern on the acute affects the alcohol the mind and more particularly, the decision-making aspect of the mind. Risk-taking is an important component of decision-making that has gathered much attention in the study of substance use disorders. For adaptive decision-making, it is necessary to determine the positive and negative outcomes rapidly to guide current as well as future actions by keeping us engaged in beneficial behaviors (Anja S. Euser, Catharina S. van Meel, Michelle Snelleman, and Ingmar H. A. Franken). The acute effects of alcohol are well known for their discouraging habits they influence, and great evidence indicates strong connections between alcohol consumption and various forms of risky behavior, such as aggression, crime, and other substance use. Another area affected by alcohol abuse is the academic side of it. Decreased academic performance is often one of the first noticeable signs of drug or alcohol abuse by college students. Substance abuse causes grades to slide because you’re no longer able to keep up with your studies and perform to the best of your abilities (Counseling and Psychological Services of Florida Tech University). Early users of alcohol have shown signs of becoming dependent on it as their life goes on.

According to the Harvard School of Public Health, there are solutions that have been brought upon the department of education of schools across the world to limit the amount of binge drinking that happens on campus. Media campaigns and counter advertising have been seen to garner major attention due to the amount of college students who are attracted to what the media says rather than hearing it from the local advisers (Transportation Research pp. 26). College students are more inclined to listen to their peers than anybody else due to the influence of the social status they may want or have.

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