Life in college is a time of self-discovery and personal development. For many students, it's the first period of time in which they're on their own, free to make their own decisions, and responsible for their best interests.
This period can also be stressful.
Students turn to friends, sororities, and fraternities to relax and enjoy stress-free activities. These activities often involve alcohol, which students consume at an excessive rate known as binge drinking. Binge drinking can result in life-changing consequences for people of all ages, but young adults are particularly susceptible.
Here are five serious consequences of binge drinking in college.
Binge Drinking in College
According to a recent study on college student drinking behaviors, 32 percent of those surveyed admitted to binge drinking in the two weeks before the study began. Even more students, 67 percent, claimed they have been drunk but not binge-drunk.
So, what is binge drinking?
Binge drinking is typically defined as the amount a person drinks within a two-hour time frame. For males, drinking five or more drinks in two hours is considered binge drinking. For females, drinking four or more alcoholic beverages in two hours is considered binging.
When drinking, alcohol is consumed and enters the bloodstream. To drive a vehicle without breaking the law, your blood should only have a concentration (BAC) of .08. For most people, one to two alcoholic drinks results in a .08 blood alcohol concentration.
Binge drinkers often triple or quadruple the legal amount of alcohol in their bloodstream, making it very dangerous.
Below are five scary consequences of binge drinking in college.
1. Increased Chances of Being Assaulted
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports 25 percent of women have reported a sexual assault, and half of those cases involved alcohol abuse for the perpetrator, the victim, or both.
Drinking inhibits good decision-making skills and behaviors that would not occur when sober, happen when students are binge drinking.
Sexual assaults are not the only types of assaults among college binge drinkers. Physical fights among drunk college students are prevalent, as well as dating violence between couples, are more likely to happen when overusing alcohol.
2. Increased Likelihood of Legal Trouble
Thousands of people die each year from drinking and driving accidents. Many more receive Driving Under the Influence (DUI) legal charges. These charges come with many consequences, including jail time, large fines, and court-ordered treatment.
This types of legal issues can result in the loss of your driver's license and employment. In some cases, you may even lose your scholarship and prevent you from completing your degree.
3. Increased Potential for Poisoning or Death
Reports show that among college student binge drinkers, 1700 die annually. And this number does not include driving and drinking statistics. These are the number who die from other alcohol-related incidences, including alcohol poisoning.
Excessive alcohol use can hinder breathing and heart rate, lowering them to the point where they fail to function properly.
Accidents related to binge drinking can lead to serious injuries and death. When drunk, your motor functions are disabled. Meaning, you are not able to walk, talk or act normally. This leads to many falls, burns and other accidents that can lead to major disabilities.
4. Increased Number of School Violations
As a student, you are expected to follow the rules set forth by the higher education institution. No underage drinking, no drinking on campus and no drinking and driving are just a few of these rules. When you binge drink, you are likely to violate at least one of these campus policies.
When caught, you will be charged with a violation of the rules. Violating the rules multiple times will eventually lead to you being expelled.
Academic violations can include passing your courses with a C or higher, attending classes, maintaining scholarship or grant funding, and following through with any on-campus responsibilities or jobs you may have.
Binge drinking will make it very difficult for you to maintain good standing in these areas. This will lead to loss of funding, loss of your job, failing courses and eventually, loss of your chance to complete your education.
5. Increased Physical and Mental Health Issues
The Center for Disease Control reports there are many physical and mental health problems associated with binge drinking. The negative short-term effects have been mentioned above, including accidents and injuries, poisoning and poor decision making.
Long-term effects are just as bad. They include increased high blood pressure, heart problems, kidney damage and even problems with the pancreas. In addition, binge drinking can contribute to early signs of aging, liver disease, and a suppressed immune system.
Furthermore, binge drinking can interfere with the absorption of calcium leading to bone problems such as osteoporosis. It can also prevent proper nutrients from being absorbed by the body, leading to malnutrition.
Binge drinking can even lead to infertility in persons trying to reproduce. Or, if they are already pregnant, it can lead to the fetus becoming reliant on alcohol and having severe withdrawal symptoms once born.
Aside from those physical symptoms, mental health can be damaged by binge drinking. Overuse of alcohol has been shown to lead to depression and anxiety among users. For some, it can lead to addiction of alcohol or dependence on other substances.
Addiction has long been associated with mental health problems. Some claim it has caused more than just anxiety and depression, like hallucinations and delusions, paranoia, and homicidal or suicidal ideations.
How to Avoid these Consequences
The best way to avoid the scary consequences associated with binge drinking in college is to surround yourself with supportive resources and people. You don't have to stop going to parties with friends; you just need to create accountability.
In many cases, that may mean talking to your friends and asking for their support. You may also want to consider looking into our mentoring program, which provides tools for students, parents, and school administrators to distinguish casual partying from serious substance misuse.
There are also residential living facilities near campus that are specifically designed for students interested in maintaining their sobriety while pursuing their academic goals. These offer live-in peer support, personal accountability, community support, and clinical care with independent treatment providers.
These resources can provide the help you need to stay sober and on track to achieving your goals in college.
Photo by Ben Duchac