These days, it seems that alcohol is everywhere. From billboards to television to online ads, we’re constantly bombarded with imagery depicting alcohol and its use as a fun and occasionally glamorous pastime — but this is far from the truth. Unfortunately, college students are taking these advertisements to heart in worrying numbers:
In recent years, rising rates of binge drinking on college campuses has resulted in thousands of tragedies, and even deaths. Also, students who binge drink are far more likely to experience a decline in academic performance, as well as negative changes in mental health. It’s clear that something needs to change, but first we need an in-depth understanding of the facts and figures surrounding this unfortunate trend.
Most of us are probably familiar with the concept of binge drinking — after all, it sounds fairly self-explanatory. However, it’s important to define exactly what it is, since so many college students engage in it unknowingly. The threshold for binge drinking is lower than you might think, and its definition is a drinking pattern that results in a blood alcohol content (BAC) of 0.08 grams per deciliter.
That may not mean much to you on its own, so let’s translate that into a number of drinks. For the average woman, that means having about 4 drinks within the space of 2 hours. For the average man, it’s 5 drinks in the same timeframe.
In the United States, the alcohol content of a standard drink is about 14 grams. To be more specific, that translates to:
This may seem fairly straightforward, but most college kids don’t accurately measure the serving sizes of their alcoholic beverages. It’s common to see over-poured beer and wine even among adults, and mixed drinks are even more dangerous. Many students who engage in binge drinking might not even know it, whether it’s because they are being served by others or they simply don’t know the definition of binge drinking.
Since it’s so easy to go overboard with alcohol, just how many students are finding out the consequences of binge drinking in college?
The effects are incredibly destructive when college kids binge drink. Aside from the damage done to the body, students who binge drink put themselves and others at risk. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the statistics surrounding student drinking are staggering:
As you can see, these are serious — sometimes deadly — consequences that can arise from even one single instance of binge drinking, on the part of either victim or perpetrator. Students are quite literally risking life and limb when they drink too much, but what about other types of consequences?
Binge drinkers are no strangers to hangovers — and when you’re in school those hangovers can wreak havoc with your grades and academic performance. NIAA reports that 1 in 4 students experience academic consequences related to their drinking. This includes:
That’s a full 25% of the college population missing out on their academic potential because of alcohol abuse! In addition, students who binge drink at least 3 times per week are 6 times more likely to perform poorly on tests than those who drank but did not binge. The binge drinkers also missed class much more than their peers due to drinking. In fact, 64% of binge-drinking college students reported missing class because of alcohol, as opposed to a low 7% of their peers.
Equally disturbing is the fact that about 20% of all college students meet the diagnostic criteria for an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD), otherwise known as alcoholism or alcohol dependence.
One of the more negative long-term effects of college binge drinking is the development of a substance use disorder. In order to be diagnosed with an AUD, you must have experienced any two of these symptoms within the last year.
As you can see, the threshold for being diagnosed with an AUD is actually quite low. For this reason, many of the college students who qualify — and therefore are in need of treatment — are unaware they do. And unfortunately, this means they’re open to some permanent consequences of alcohol abuse in college.
Brain development typically finishes at or after age 24, meaning most college students who drink are actively changing the way their brain develops — and it’s certainly not for the better. Among the negative long-term effects of binge drinking as a college student are:
That’s right, binge drinking can actually shrink your brain! It also can also lead to a lesser-known result: type 2 diabetes.
In a recent study, rats were given substantial daily doses of ethanol in order to mimic real-life binge drinking by humans. Surprisingly, over time they became resistant to insulin — a troubling development as insulin resistance is a marker for type 2 diabetes. If your body is resistant to insulin, you can’t regulate glucose levels in your blood, and that can lead to all kinds of secondary effects such as:
Binge drinking causes insulin resistance by blocking the signals of insulin receptors in the brain. This is significant because it suggests alcohol might interrupt metabolism due to neurotoxic effects in the brain, rather than the liver. Needless to say, finding the link between binge drinking and diabetes is a huge deal, and yet another incentive for college students to lay off the alcohol.
One of the biggest factors in the staggering number of college binge drinkers is a lack of education surrounding the topic. Students may not be aware of what a standard drink is, what constitutes binge drinking, or college binge drinking effects. For this reason, the most important thing for any college student to do is learn effective strategies for safe and responsible drinking before binge consumption becomes a problem. Here are some quick tips on how to stay safe while drinking and avoid the pressure to binge.
It’s not hard to pick up helpful habits that will allow college students to drink responsibly, but most are woefully unprepared to fend for themselves in an environment where over half of their peers binge drink. There’s only so much university administration can do to reach out to students on the topic of alcohol, so it’s up to parents and kids to get the education they need.
Unfortunately, not all students are equipped to deal with the availability of alcohol and the pressure to drink, and they go on to develop alcohol dependence. The good news is treating addiction in young adults is definitely doable, and it gives them a strong foundation with which to face the temptation of alcohol abuse in the future.
Only 11% of people who need help treating addiction ever actually receive formal treatment — and that is in large part because they don’t necessarily understand what treatment entails. Here’s what you can expect:
Anyone suffering the consequences of alcohol addiction can benefit from going to rehab, but not all treatment centers are created equal. At our luxury rehab center, your comfort is on par with your recovery. With elegant and private rooms, a peaceful and beautiful location, and amenities tailored to your every need, we offer a path to recovery that focuses on your entire experience — not just the expert treatment.
Relax in the salon, sunroom or sauna, or get your heart pumping in our state-of-the art fitness facilities. We take nutrition to the next level by employing the services of an executive chef and offering use of the full-service kitchen during designated hours. If you’re the type to benefit from creative expression, you’ll love our art and music studios. There’s even a recreation room for use in downtime, to help remind you that it’s okay — and healthy — to have fun in recovery.
Our intentionally small program only accepts up to 17 clients at a time, so rest assured knowing this fully staffed facility has your individualized needs in mind. If you’re ready to step out of addiction and into the healthy and sober life you deserve, contact us today.
Posted on January 5th, 2016 in Blog