effects of alcohol abuse on college students

Betty Gabriel Mr. Scott English 1301-16 12 November 2009 Alcohol and College Students: What are the Effects? College is a time in one’s life to start over, to start off on a clean slate. It is also time for a person to prepare for their future. Most importantly, college is time for people to achieve an education, while furthermore working on who they are and who they want to be. However, when people hear about college experiences, they are mostly focused around wild parties, drugs, and alcohol: the makings of a “good time”.

Most of the time, all people hear and talk about is how much alcohol they drank the night before and how “awesome” it was, but what are some of the effects that result from the road of alcohol? Since the main reason to go to college is to get an education, this is usually where one’s problems start when they choose to abuse alcohol. Alcohol abuse can often lead to not attending class, missing important deadlines, failing tests or projects, not being adequately prepared for major tests or projects, and developing difficulty studying.

Approximately “one-third of college students admit to having missed at least one class because of their alcohol use, and nearly one-quarter of students reported failing a test or project because of the aftereffects of the alcohol they drank” (Facts on Tap, 1). According to a nationwide CORE Alcohol and Drug survey, “a person’s GPA is one of the factors of how much alcohol is consumed. ” For example, “A average students consumed 3. 3 drinks per week, while B average students consumed 4. 8, C average students consumed 6. 1 drinks per week, and D or F average students consumed around 9 drinks per week” (The University of Portland, 1).

The “average [college] student spends about $900 on alcohol each year, while they only spend about $450 on books” (Facts on Tap, 1). Frequently, if students are doing badly in school, they will either drop the class or drop out of college period. Just about “159,000 of today’s first-year college students will drop out school next year for alcohol or other drug-related reasons” (Facts on Tap, 1). Most importantly, alcohol abuse can have damaging effects on the brain. Is one night worth it? Think of this statistic: one night of heavy drinking can impair your ability to think abstractly for up to 30 days (Facts on Tap, 1).

That is around a month of time taken away from your life just because of one night. In addition to that statistic, an organization called the Core Institute states “that an estimated 300,000 of today’s college students will eventually die of alcohol-related causes such as drunk driving accidents, liver damage, various cancers, and heart disease” (Facts on Tap, 1). However, the person consuming alcohol is not the only one who suffers, but the others around them suffer as well. An estimation of “one-fifth of college students abstain from all alcohol use” (The University of Portland, 2).

According to the Harvard School of Public Health’s College Alcohol Study, “over three-quarters of students who live in campus housing report experiencing one or more effects of alcohol” (Secondary Effects of Alcohol Abuse, 1). Students had been interrupted during their study time or sleep, had to take care of fellow drunken student, had claimed to be insulted, and had been injured; additionally, some college students suffered property damage, had been assaulted, and experienced sexual assault or rape (Alcohol and Drug Abuse on College Campuses, 2).

What about the community that the college is located in? Alcohol use and abuse in colleges can and has negatively affected the lives of people in and around the local communities. “Excessive noise, litter, and vandalism” are just a few things that those local people have to worry about (Secondary Effects of Alcohol Abuse, 2). Although mostly negative things come out of alcohol abuse, there are some positive occurrences that do take place.

In order to reduce alcohol use and abuse, universities and colleges are putting new policies and programs into practice. Some strategies that they are using are “strengthening academic requirements, which make it harder for students who abuse alcohol to keep up, scheduling classes on Fridays to ensure that parties do not occur on [“thirsty”] Thursdays, and keeping libraries and recreational facilities open longer [so that students have something to do besides drink and party]” (Alcohol Education Project 4, 5).

Other instances include “eliminating alcohol companies as sponsors for athletic programs, restricting alcohol promotions and advertising on campus and in campus publications, monitoring fraternities, providing a wide range of alcohol-free social and recreational activities, strictly disciplining repeat offenders, notifying parents when students engage in serious or repeated violations of alcohol laws, and launching media campaigns to inform students about the actual amount of drinking that occurs on campuses” (Alcohol Education Project 5).

Some examples of award-winning colleges and universities with such programs are “Boston College, Rutgers University, Syracuse University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Washington State University, and University of Nebraska-Lincoln” (Alcohol Education Project iii, iv). Some names of college alcohol prevention, intervention, and education programs are the “BACCHUS (Boosting Alcohol Consciousness Concerning the Health of University Students) Network, the GAMMA (Greeks Advocating Mature Management of Alcohol) group, and Facts on Tap” (The BACCHUS Network, 1).

However, if these types of programs are to be effective on a nationwide scale, more colleges and universities will have to start putting them into action. Alcohol abuse by college students has many negative effects on the students themselves, the colleges, and the communities. Through the help and support of the colleges, alcohol-free activities, campaigns, and educational programs, colleges and their student bodies can help fight the negative effects of alcohol abuse.

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