As the school year quickly gets underway and students slowly ease out of summer and get back into the grind of late-night study sessions, it is becoming more obvious that books are not the only subject on the brain. Social life often takes precedent, which often involves college parties. With alcohol flowing seemingly as freely as water, remaining sober in a college environment is challenging. Although college partying may seem harmless, excessive drinking is always accompanied by trouble.
According to a recent report by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related injuries. Another 599,000 students are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol, and 2.1 million students have reportedly driven drunk within the past year.
Why do so many college-age students partake in excessive drinking? Many drink as a way to fit in among their peers and use alcohol as a socialization tool. Others experiment with alcohol as a way to declare their independence from their parents. However, for some individuals, alcohol becomes more than just sharing a drink with friends—it develops into alcoholism.
Not all students who drink are alcoholics. And for many individuals, the concept that a college student can be an alcoholic is unfathomable. However, that’s not the case. A study suggests that 7 percent of college students technically fit the description of being dependent on alcohol, and another 31 percent of students were diagnosed as having previously abused alcohol.
While these figures may not be too staggering in the eyes of some, the prevalence of alcohol at colleges is cause for concern. Eighty four percent of college students—both underage and those of legal age—have had an alcoholic drink within the last year. It is estimated on average, college students consume about 4.5 drinks per week and about two in five students participate in high-risk or binge drinking at least once in a two-week period.
There are many signs and symptoms of alcoholism to watch out for. If an individual starts obsessing over when he or she will have his or her next drink and they are unable to control their drinking when they do drink, they have a problem. When academics are affected and class attendance drops due to nights of heavy drinking, it may be time to seek treatment.
Many colleges are trying to combat alcohol abuse by providing alcohol awareness programs and by educating incoming freshmen on the dangers of alcohol. Schools are also offering “alcohol-free” dorms and social programs for students that don’t involve alcohol.
There is no concrete evidence showing why some people become alcoholics whereas other individuals do not. Many believe genetics play a role and certain individuals may be predisposed to the addictive gene. Others drink to help themselves cope with unrelated issues. Whatever the cause, alcoholism is a disease that, if it remains untreated, can turn deadly.