Attending college is generally considered to be an integral part of achieving the American dream. Parents encourage their teenagers to succeed academically during high school, because this increases their chances of being admitted to a respected institute of higher learning. Economically, states with higher college graduation rates enjoy higher overall incomes. This translates into an improved standard of living for all residents.
However, college students are increasingly falling prey to a hedonistic, over-indulgent attitude toward substance abuse on campus. Of these substances, alcohol is the drug of choice for most college students. When students lose sight of their goals and instead focus their energies on partying and consumption, even non-drinkers suffer.
College Students & Alcoholism by the Numbers
It’s not breaking news to most people that unhealthy drinking behavior has increased in intensity on college campuses. Tuning into the nightly news or surfing online will generally turn up several tales of tragedy that stem from kids using alcohol. College drinking is extremely widespread and college students also report a high rate of Adderall abuse. In fact, 4 out of 5 students surveyed by the National Institute of Health (NIH) admit to drinking alcohol. Shockingly, half of these drinkers also say they engage in binge drinking on a regular basis. Binge drinking is the dangerously fast consumption of alcohol that results in a rapid rise of blood alcohol concentration (BAC).
What are the consequences of such widespread, irresponsible alcohol use?
- Over 1,500 students die each year from alcohol related injuries.
- Over half a million students are physically assaulted by an intoxicated student.
- At least 97,000 students are victims of sexual assault and rape.
- More than 150,000 students develop alcohol related health issues.
- Nearly 600,000 students are seriously injured due to alcohol related incidents.
Fraternities and sororities play a large part in the culture of over-consumption found on most campuses. The culture of these organizations encourage heavy drinking, partly due to the fact that a fraternity or sorority party is considered a normal setting for binge drinking. 62.4 percent of sorority members admitted to engaging in heavy drinking, compared to 40.9 percent of non-affiliated students.
Alcohol and Academic Issues
Alcohol abuse plays a large role in academic dysfunction. Long term addiction completely derails a student’s academic plans, while short-term abuse also harms the chances of attaining academic success. Alcohol affects judgement, the ability to make good decisions, the ability to manage time effectively and interferes with the ability to concentrate. It’s difficult to attend classes and make good grades when alcohol abuse impairs a student’s cognition. Chronic use can also cause health and nutritional problems, further impeding a student’s ability to cope with the everyday stresses of college life.
How does college drinking affect academic performance and drop-out rates?
- 40 percent of academic issues stem from an alcohol related cause.
- 28 percent of all college dropouts are related to alcohol induced issues.
What Steps can be Taken to Improve College Graduation Rates?
Given that alcohol plays a role in over a quarter of college dropout cases, it’s obvious that on-campus resources for addressing the problem of alcohol abuse must be available. College officials are constantly searching for effective alcohol intervention options. Aside from counseling students who have already entered the downward spiral of alcohol abuse, focusing on prevention is key. Preventing substance abuse from beginning in the first place is more effective than treating afflicted individuals. Many people who enter alcohol treatment programs relapse at some point during their recovery. Prevention is always the best method of controlling the epidemic of alcohol abuse.
Community support also plays an important role in reducing alcohol related dropouts. Social influence and peer pressure play a large role in the over-consumption and abuse of alcohol. As examined previously, college fraternities and sororities are communities in which binge drinking is considered a social norm. College campuses would be wise to target these organizations with prevention and education programs. 50 percent of students living in a fraternity or sorority house reported under-performing academically. Membership in these organizations may put expose at-risk students to a higher chance of dropping out due to alcohol abuse.
It’s important to note that college drinking does not always occur on campus. Another way to reduce the number of students who drink is to partner up with surrounding college communities. Enforcing laws that target over-serving, intoxication and minimum age requirements can all help to reduce access to alcohol, and reduce over-consumption. Lessened access to alcohol holds a positive correlation to increased academic performance.
Changing the campus culture of partying and imbibing is not going to be easy. Regardless, it is crucial that colleges face this issue head-on instead of turning the other way. Prevention and education are the keys to ensuring that a higher percentage of students achieve their goal of earning a college degree. Until the issue of alcohol abuse is directly confronted, more young people will be dropping out, getting injured, assaulted, raped or killed. Investing in a college education means investing in the future of our students. A component of this means educating them upon the pitfalls of substance abuse.