6 Effects of Alcohol on College Students

effects of alcohol on college students

In a study of close to 14,000 college students, it was found that the amount of time a student spent drinking alcohol was a good predictor of a student’s grade point average (GPA). They found that the more time a student spent drinking in their spare time, the lower their GPA.

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In this article, we're taking a closer look at the effects of alcohol on college students.

Effects of Alcohol on College Students

As we previously explored, college students drink alcohol for a variety of reasons.

What starts as one or two drinks may quickly turn into several within a short period of time. Binge drinking in college can lead to long-term consequences, as this type of alcohol abuse can result in poor decision-making. Today, we're focusing on the effects of alcohol on college students' grades?

Effects of alcohol on college students:

  • Weakened immune system
  • Poor sleeping habits
  • Physical injury
  • Financial stress
  • Mental health problems
  • Legal stress

Alcohol Weakens the Immune System

Long-term excessive alcohol drinking can have negative effects internally. It can damage the liver, the respiratory system, and the digestive system, to name a few. Drinking impairs immune cells in the lungs, leading to ailments such as pneumonia and tuberculosis.

Binge drinking can further weaken the immune system due to the overwhelming amount of alcohol flooding the system at once. The liver cannot process out the antitoxins fast enough to protect the body, causing the immune system to weaken.

When students are sick, they are not able to fully concentrate on their studies. They may not even be able to attend classes due to an illness. And when class participation and attendance factor into a grade, this can lower their overall score.

Poor Sleeping Habits

Proper sleep has long been linked to good health. Lack of sleep contributes to decreased mental focus, irritability, and anxiety. Alcohol prevents you from getting good sleep. It dehydrates your body and can sleep-related disorders worse, including sleep apnea and insomnia.

When students are not well rested, they often oversleep and miss important classes. If they do attend the class, they find it difficult to concentrate and engage in learning. Not putting forth the necessary efforts to do well in a course can lead to a lower overall grade.

Physical Injuries

Alcohol, because it causes impairments in the brain, affects motor skills. It also affects decision-making skills. When sober, you can make smart decisions and weigh the factors of if something is harmful. Alcohol changes the chemicals in your brain and makes you think you can accomplish things you can’t.

For instance, when drinking, you may think surfing on concrete while being pulled behind a vehicle is a fun way to pass the time. You think you are invincible and won’t be harmed. You quickly learn the opposite is true when you end up in the hospital with a few broken bones.

Injuries such as these prevent you from attending class and put you behind in completing the assignments required to complete the class. Or, you may be given narcotics to help ease the pain of your injury.

Narcotics further prevent you from being able to properly study.

Financial Stress

According to reports, college students spend $900 a year on alcohol. They spend about half of this amount on books. This can mean that students are spending their loan money on booze.

When financial trouble hits a college student, there can be serious repercussions. Some students may have to obtain a job that can interfere with attending class or study time. Some students may lose a scholarship or grant money due to excessive partying.

Losing a scholarship or other funding can lead to a student dropping out of college or going further into debt.

Financial stress can lead to students not being able to give their grades the attention they need.

Mental Health Problems

There are many studies showing the connection between mental health problems and abusing alcohol. Drinking too much alcohol can lead to a mental health disorder and vice versa. Students often try to self-medicate with alcohol to alleviate anxiety, depression, and other mental illnesses.

Alcohol affects brain chemicals responsible for making you feel happy and rewarded. But over time, alcohol can damage brain cells and students find it hard to feel that happiness on their own.

Mental illness makes it difficult to complete tasks such as homework assignments and preparing for tests. In some instances, students with mental illness can’t find the motivation to attend classes and complete projects.

While mental illness alone can affect grades, combined with alcohol it becomes even harder to get good grades.

Those who drink in excess are more likely to find themselves in trouble with either the school, the police or both. Drinking and driving among college students is risky behavior that takes place more often than it should.

When a student is drunk, they are likely to make poor decisions, some of which may violate the policies of the college. Violating the law or school policies can mean paying large fines, suspension or being expelled. All these lead to failing or incomplete courses.

Get on Track

Now that you understand the effects of alcohol on college students' grades, you can make a more informed decision regarding habits and future behavior.

Whether you are seeking prevention services or need an intervention, there are local resources available. Reach out to agencies that offer a full spectrum of services, from sober housing, outpatient therapy, inpatient detox, and maintenance, to fun, alcohol-free, on-campus activities that rock.

College does not have to include alcohol to be exciting and rewarding.