Running head: ALCOHOL ABUSE AMONG COLLEGE STUDENTS
Alcohol Abuse Among College Students and Possible Solutions
Georgia Southern University
Binge or excessive drinking is the most serious problem affecting social life, health, and education on college campuses today including the campus of Georgia Southern University. Binge or excessive drinking by college students has become a social phenomena in which college students do not acknowledge the health risks that are involved with their excessive drinking habits. Furthermore college students do not know enough about alcohol in general and what exactly it does to the body or they do not pay attention to the information given to them. There needs to be a complete saturation on the campus of Georgia Southern University and surrounding areas, including businesses and the media, expressing how excessive drinking is not attractive and not socially accepted.
Alcohol Abuse Among College Students and Possible Solutions
One of the biggest problems with educational institutions in the United States is alcohol abuse among college students. College students across the United States including Georgia Southern University end up missing class, having unprotected sex, damaging property, and getting injured as a result of abusing alcohol. Also the health risks involved with binge or excessive drinking is very prevalent and risky for any college student who chooses to abuse alcohol. Besides alcohol poisoning, there are many cancers and diseases associated with alcohol abuse that ultimately lead to death. Liver cancer, breast cancer, and skin cancer can all be associated with alcohol abuse (Drinking: A Students Guide, 2001). Also heart and liver disease can be associated with alcohol abuse (Drinking: A Students Guide, 2001). Ultimately the over all wellness among Colleges and Universities in the United States drops dramatically when alcohol is abused. The abuse of alcohol among college students has a direct correlation to socialization (Mendelson, 2000, p.13). Students who go to college believe that binge or excessive drinking is a social norm. That when you go off to college it’s time to not only get a degree, but also a time to drink and socialize at parties. In the end, alcohol is glamorized and often enough abused. Ultimately alcohol becomes so much of a social norm that students do not realize how and when alcohol is abusive. Therefore the problem is how to inform students in a socially acceptable manner of how and when alcohol becomes abusive to their own well being. This reports seeks to explore all aspects of alcohol abuse related to college students through definitions and statistical problems of alcohol abuse in hopes of ultimately providing solutions to increasing the wellness at Georgia Southern University.
There are many definitions associated with alcohol and alcohol abuse in general that need to be clarified. Most college students think of alcohol as that cheap high they get to obtain on the weekends at social events called parties. Knowing what alcohol really is and what exactly it can do to your body in excessive amounts over time and in any one sitting is one of the main problems with why college students abuse alcohol. The social norm of binge or excessive drinking in college is prevailing over the social fact of what alcohol really is and what it can do to a person’s health! The actual definition of alcohol is a “liquid distilled product of fermented fruits, grains, and vegetables used as a solvent, antiseptic and sedative” (Drinking: A students Guide, 2001). The possible effects of alcohol would include intoxication, sensory alteration, and anxiety reduction. Symptoms of overdose would include staggering, loss of coordination, slurred speech, dilated pupils, and nerve and liver damage. Indications of possible misuse would include confusion, disorientation, convulsions, shock, drowsiness, respiratory depression, and possible death (Drinking: A students Guide, 2001). Now any logical person not affected by some social norm and peer pressure would not give in to drinking such an antiseptic. Most college students will say they know what alcohol can do to them, but they continue to drink excessively because it’s the social norm. Furthermore college students are confused as to what is considered alcohol abuse and simply alcoholism.
The confusion between the definitions of alcohol abuse and alcoholism leads to many misconceptions or myths among college students about alcoholics. College students who abuse alcohol seem to be able to drink excessively each and every weekend and consider themselves not to be alcoholics or not in endanger of becoming alcoholics. College students who are binge or excessive drinkers are able to avoid being labeled an alcoholic because it’s so socially acceptable in college to drink and drink often. The distinction is that “when drinking begins to interfere with any aspect of a person’s life it’s considered alcohol abuse. And when drinking becomes addictive, either psychologically or physically, it’s considered alcoholism. Alcohol abuse, if left untreated, can very easily progress into alcoholism” (Drinking: A Students Guide, 2001). In response to this fact most college students come up with the myth that people who are morally weak or have emotional problems are the ones who can become alcoholics. Whereas the truth is that “studies show there are no particular personality traits that cause alcoholism to occur. What’s important is how much and how often someone drinks, not what kind of person they are” (Drinking: A Students Guide, 2001). Ultimately college students are setting themselves up to become the alcoholics of the future because they drink when their depressed, stressed about school work, and to simply have a so called good time. College students who abuse alcohol seem to find or have every reason to drink than not to drink. Again the typical college student who always finds a reason to drink is accepted socially and that makes everything just fine. The social acceptance of drinking alcohol in college statistically makes alcohol abuse among college students one of the biggest problems among educational institutions in the United States.
Statistically alcohol has caused a wealth of misfortune and death across the United States just among college students. “According to the Core Institute, an organization that surveys college drinking practices, 300,000 of today’s college students will eventually die of alcohol-related causes such as drunk driving accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, various cancers, and heart disease” (The college Experience, 2001). Drunk driving accidents is probably the biggest cause of deaths among the 300,000 college students that will eventually die because “drinking and driving has been reported by 60% of college men and 50% of college women who are binge drinkers” (The College Experience, 2001). Also “75% of male students and 55% of female students involved in acquaintance rape had been drinking at the time” (Drinking: A Students Guide, 2001). “Between 75% and 90% of all violence on campuses is alcohol related” (Marcus, 2000, p. 53). “Alcohol is a factor in 66% of student suicides and 60% of all sexually-transmitted diseases” (Marcus, 2000, p. 53). Besides just misfortunes and deaths among college students who abuse alcohol there is plenty of academic statistics that shows how alcohol affects a student’s performance in the classroom.
Really it should be a miracle how some students can go out and drink as much as they do and still get their work done and eventually graduate. On the over hand some students are not as fortunate as to survive drinking alcohol excessively for five years of their college career and still graduate. An alarming “159,000 of today’s first year college students will drop out of school next year for alcohol related reasons” (The College Experience, 2001). “Almost one-third of college students admit to having missed at least one class because of their alcohol use, and nearly one-quarter of students report bombing a test or project because of the aftereffects of drinking” (Drinking: A Students Guide, 2001). Considering how one test or one major project in an upper division class can almost make or brake whether or not a passing grade is received puts things into perspective as far as how important it is not to abuse alcohol in college especially as a senior. Also it has been reported that students who drink excessively hinder their ability to think abstractly in class for up to three or four days after drinking (The College Experience, 2001). Alcohol abuse by college students really puts America far behind certain other countries such as China in academics when our U.S. students abuse alcohol more than any other country (Wechsler, Nelson, ; Weitzman, 2000, p. 38). Related more to health issues, college students who abuse alcohol are more likely to also obtain sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) as well.
Because most colleges these days are coed and alcohol is placed between young men and women were the social norm is to drink the chances for STDs to arise is very prevalent. “College students spend $5.5 billion dollars on alcohol and drink an estimated 4 billion cans of beer annually. The total amount of alcohol consumed by college students each year is 430 million gallons, enough for every college and university in the United States to fill an Olympic-size swimming pool” (Drinking: A Students Guide, 2001). Mix this amount of alcohol consumption in between young men and women away from their parents for the first time and what you have is STD heaven. “As many as 70% of college students admit to having engaged in sexual activity primarily as a result of being under the influence of alcohol, or to having sex they wouldn’t have had if they had been sober” (The College Experience, 2001). An outstanding “60% of college women who are infected with STDs, including genital herpes and AIDS, report that they were under the influence of alcohol at the time they had intercourse with the infected person” (The College Experience, 2001). “According to the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 1500 college students is HIV positive, and the fastest-growing populations of American people infected with HIV are teenagers and young Adults in college” (The College Experience, 2001). From all the statistics reported above, extremely large amounts of college students still abuse alcohol. There must be a reason why and new solutions ought to be considered.
The statistics reported above have been in print for at least a year or two and educated students in college must have heard something about them, but these statistics still do not create a great enough awareness to cut down on the ever going trend of alcohol abuse by college students. Part of this is due do to the lack of knowledge that college students have about alcohol abuse in general and that college students really do not know when and how alcohol is abusive to their own well being. Part of this is due to the fact that drinking alcohol is the socially acceptable cool thing to do in college, which causes more people to abuse alcohol on a regular basis (Mendelson, 2000, p.13). Finally the most prevalent thing is how cheap it is for college students to obtain alcohol in college and how much the media exposes college students to the idea that drinking alcohol is a social norm. “Beer manufacturers spend an estimated $15-20 million annually to promote their products to college students (Drinking: A Students Guide, 2001). Simply offering scare tactics about alcohol abuse with impressive statistics and banged up cars really does not work completely to reduce the amount of excessive drinking going on in college. Successful solutions must be collaborative in nature.
In conclusion, alcohol abuse among college students is a social phenomena that is currently normative in nature. In other words, most everyone going to college and most everyone already in college expect to drink excessive amounts of alcohol because it’s socially accepted, and therefore college students do not view their excessive drinking habits as a problem. In order to fix a social phenomena you must create a greater social phenomena to take its place. There must be collaboration among Georgia Southern University (GSU) students and faculty, local media and advertising companies, and local businesses to send out the message that excessive drinking is not socially cool or normative at all. There must be universal support from students at Georgia Southern University to saturate the campus with disapproval of people who are excessive in their drinking habits. Also Georgia Southern University needs to promote that education about excessive drinking should begin with kids in middle school and continue throughout high school. The local media needs to stop advertising how easy and cheap it is to obtain alcohol and start advertising how unsocial it is to be a drunk. Local businesses that sell alcohol need to work with Georgia Southern University and the media to cut down on under age drinking and stop selling alcohol so cheap. There needs to be a complete saturation on the campus of Georgia Southern University and surrounding areas, including businesses and the media, expressing how excessive drinking is not attractive and not socially accepted.