Based on the pronounced freedom and exposure that students get in colleges, majority find themselves seriously addicted of drinking despite their earlier-on sober and well-calculated life. This behavior becomes problematic, when they attempt to free themselves out of the bondage. Problematic drinking in college has become and significant public health issue. The objective of this review is to examine the position of college student drinking.
This assessment addresses problematic drinking and the variables strongly related to drinking among students. Drinking is often crisis because the drinking habits in colleges is binge drinking. This brings to mind the self-destructive and uncontrolled drinking stints whose consequences include failing to go to work because of serious hangover, extravagant spending, and engaging in detrimental behavior like risky sex or fighting.
Problematic or binge drinking is a significant problem among college students that need addressing as a social concern. Over the recent years, college students have increasingly been consuming more alcohol as a social activity. The Harvard school of public health alcohol research of 1990s puts the estimate at 44% of the sampled students being binge drinkers (Wechsler 199).
In addition, the study found that 23 percent drunk (binge drinking) frequently. Alcohol drinking causes some health and psychosocial problems. These problems are more common among binge drinkers (Wechsler 199). Therefore, binge drinkers face the highest risk of engaging in violence, unprotected sex, car accidents, dropping out of college and disregarding other responsibilities.
When college student begin to engage in violence and other risky behavior when drunk, it is termed problematic drinking (Hingston 136). This problem has a number of consequences as a public social health issues. For that cause, it is pertinent to comprehend variables, which could be risk factors for the binge rather problematic drinking among college students.
It is pertinent to note that college students have unique drinking patterns brought about by the ‘ideal lifestyle’ they tend to live. Compared to the general population, college students have an ‘ideal’ life and behave differently as a group (Hingston 136). Because of the high variability of drinking among college students, the main problem of the paper is to address psychosocial variables that predict excessive drinking and, therefore, account for the problem of drinking among college students.
College Student Drinking- The Culture
The drinking tradition among college students has evolved exceptionally fast into some culture. This tradition appears to have some strong beliefs and customs now embedded in every level of college life. These customs go down from generation to generation of college drinkers (O’Malley, and Johnston 23).
This has reinforced the need to drink and drinking habits as necessary tools for success in social life in college. These beliefs and expectations stimulate powerful pressure on college student’s conduct and consumption of alcohol. There are also some customers, which promote college student drinking entrenched in student environments.
The sporting events are the most popular arena for drinking (O’Malley, and Johnston 26). There are numerous advertisements using sports personalities and alcohol companies supporting sports. If these sports people are successful alumni, as perceived, they promote the alcohol tradition in colleges by this influence alone. Students love alumni social functions and these functions also promote drinking to a greater level.
Communities around colleges nowadays do not seem to have a problem with creating establishments near colleges to sell alcohol. These businesses rely on the college student clientele for their economic achievement. As such, students draw their expectations of drinking from the environment and peers (Wechsler 203).
This could be because of the insecurity of identity and building their personality as influential people in the social setting. The combined pressure from the environment and peers propels the drinking culture. This culture, therefore, promotes problematic drinking actively of passively by tolerating it, tacitly approving it as a rite of passage and hailing it as fashionable phenomenon (O’Malley, and Johnston 29).
Two crucial problems characterize binge drinking – violence and risky sex. This unprotected sex puts student at risk of contractive sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. College students use alcohol as a ‘social lubricant’ to make the students to establish wider circle of friends and have fun (Wechsler 205). The student drink in groups for unity and for assertion of manliness or togetherness making alcohol a way of maintains cohesiveness.
Because of the carelessness and irrational behavior caused by drinking, college students often begin using other drugs, as well. With a better understanding of the connection between alcohol and substance abuse, violence, sex and academic performance, measures can be out in place to help mitigate this problem (Hingston 143).
Student Perception of Drinking
Many college students do not believe that they have a trouble with drinking even when it is obvious that they are (Hingston 139). They simply believe that they drink on social events and respected occasional. However, they tend to have too many and unnecessary social events ranging from outstanding parties to drinking because a boy- of girlfriend broke up with them.
Attending parties and drinking are not only fashionable but also an occasion celebrated like a major success (Mustang 2). Even movies promote such drinking habits hence reinforcing the perception of students that drinking and partying are fundamental aspects of college life experiences.
As the study of Cal Poly students shows, those who drink regularly do so because it is just a way of life. It is stylish and thrilling to party as a student at Hathaway Avenue, throw bashes once you become a senior in college and celebrating turning 21 are among leading events of a student’s social life (Mustang 3). Statistics also show that, at the beginnings of every year, partying is often highest. The numbers then begin to reduce as the academic year progresses and particularly in winter and summer holidays since students normally go home.
College Drinking Problems
The drinking pattern among student is unique and variable with a transient course. Only few students show heavy drinking patterns consistently for a long time into adulthood. After then hype period as freshmen, students begin to reduce drinking gradually to moderate levels as they advance in college (O’Malley, and Johnston 35). This means they are maturing out because the older they get the more responsible they tend to be.
The drinking in college students differs considerably from non-college people in the same age. The rate of drinkers among students aged 18 to 24 is higher in relation to non-students of the same age bracket (O’Malley, and Johnston 23). Even though most of the students seem to transition from heavy drinking to moderate after college, some fail to undergo the transition.
Heavy drinking puts the student lives at risk of suffering significant negative alcohol-related consequences in college (Wechsler 207). Alcohol-related problems fall on a continuum ranging from recklessness like skiving lessons to serious crimes like doing drugs and getting in trouble with authorizes. This puts every drinker at risk of experiencing several alcohol related problems in the future.
Alcohol also causes more accidents and, therefore, contributes to accident deaths more than any other cause. Alcohol related accidents are a leading cause of deaths among college students aged 17–24 years. Over a half of a million students suffer unintentional injuries because of drinking each year (Hingston 139). The media has recently increased attention to alcohol-related deaths among college students like deaths from alcohol poisoning, drowning, car accidents, accidental fires, hypothermia and falling (Wechsler 201).
There are some mild problems, which binge drinkers experience five times more than non-binge drinkers are. These include hangovers, missing classes, forgetfulness and unprotected sex (Wechsler 207). Heavy drinking affects student health, since alcohol lowers immunity. The drinkers are hence unable to resist illnesses like respiratory infections, a phenomenon not common in light drinkers (Wechsler 208).
The consequences of healthy drinking can be shocking. For example, heavy drinking commonly results in physical assault, sexual violence and destruction of property. Every year, there are reports of over 600,000 other students hit or assaulted by a drinking student (Hingston 139).
Driving under the influence of alcohol is a significant risk that students often take. This puts them at risk of injury and possible death. Hingston (142) found that besides over 2 million students driving while drunk, over 3 million drove as passenger of a drunk driver. This puts even more people at risk.
When college student dies due to alcohol intoxication or other alcohol related causes. This incident captures the media’s attention for a while. At the university, the administration deals with the problems immediately and normalcy resumes. The incident is does not cause a change in policy or long-term measures to curb future happenings of similar cases. One of the main reasons for this apparent inattentiveness to permanent is that, the problem of drinking in colleges is deemed unsolvable.
Many schools have put in place structures to help reduced drinking among the students. They seem not to have noteworthy campus-wide success. Every failed attempt makes the problem of drinking in college obstinate. This further demoralized the administration’s attitude. With experts in the field of counseling, community administrations and student welfare, it can be easier to use combined knowledge to find a solution.
In the recent past, there have been some notable recommendations presented for solving this problem. These recommendations have included a culture change, which has to use three level intervention strategies. First, it has to begin at the individual level – student character. Second is the student fraternity level – group drinking culture and third, at community level – alcohol businesses around campus.
Having this overarching structure in place, the colleges will be able to tailor a program addressing alcohol-related problems among college students. Underlying these measures is the fact that even though the general trend of drinking may seem the same, no college is similar to another in terms of the environment influences and individual student’s characteristics. Therefore, the effectiveness of these remedies extends beyond the school to the entire community.
Hingston, Ralph, Timothy Heeren, Zakocs Ronda, Kopstein Andrea, and Henry Wechsler. Magnitude Of Alcohol-Related Mortality And Morbidity Among U.S. College Students Ages 18–24. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 63.2 (2002): 136 – 144.
Mustang, Daily. The Drinking Habits Ofna College Town. News for Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, 2011. Web. 19 Nov. 2011
O’Malley, Patrick and Lloyd Johnston. Epidemiology of Alcohol and Other Drug Use among American College Students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 3.2 (2002): 23–39.
Wechsler, Henry, Lee Jae., Kuo Meichun and Lee Hang. College Binge Drinking In The 1990s: A Continuing Problem: Results Of The Harvard School Of Public Health 1999 College Alcohol Study. J. Amer. Coll. Hlth 48.5 (2000): 199-210.