Alcohol use among college students

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College drinking is the consumption of alcohol by students on the campus of any college or university. The age at which it is legal to drink varies by country and affects whether college drinking is considered illegal (e.g., as in the United States, where it is illegal for those under the age of 21 to drink).

Binge drinking[edit]

members of a German student corps drinking, Duchy of Brunswick, 1837

Binge drinking occurs when students drink large amounts of alcohol in a relatively short space of time in order to feel the full effects of alcohol consumption. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism[1] defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person's blood alcohol concentration, also known as BAC, to 0.08 grams percent or above. This is usually seen when men consume five or more drinks, and when women consume four or more drinks in a two-hour time period.

Young adults who participate in binge drinking experience higher rates of physical and sexual assault, and unwanted, unplanned, and unprotected sexual activity.[2] There are also links between heavy alcohol consumption and depression.[3]

The motivations among young students have changed as well. In recent years, more students are drinking with the intended purpose of getting drunk.[4]

Health hazards[edit]

There are many health hazards that are caused from drinking. When students drink too much, the alcohol affects one's brain and ability to comprehend what is going on. One such problem is alcohol poisoning. After drinking too much, the alcohol and toxins in alcoholic drinks cause complications in one's brain and respiratory system. This causes mental and physical issues in one's body and could be very dangerous for one's health. Other hazardous health issues could arise from a drug called Rohypnol, nicknamed roofies. This is a toxic drug that could potentially be slipped into one’s drink which cause one to lose sight of what one thinks and does. This will also cause complications within one's body.

Potential legal consequences[edit]

In certain countries, the drinking age of 18 or 21 is enforced. At certain U.S colleges, campus police will conduct bar raids by taking a certain number of people from the bar to catch underage students drinking. For example, at the University of Illinois, police will give tickets for underage students for just being an arms length distance from an alcoholic beverage. At other big universities, such as University of Wisconsin-Madison, students have to pay a ticket of about $250 and also pay for classes about the problems of drinking. Another major consequence is one's chances for college admission. If an individual has pictures on social media of them drinking or has a record with the police for underage drinking, this will cause a bad image of them and will cause issues when applying to schools.

Though not necessarily legal, college drinking has become so common that there are less legal consequences for students caught drinking as compared to non-campus drinking events. Students are encouraged to prioritize safe drinking over non-drinking. Many schools have transportation services that are specific to drinking so the students are transported safely.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA)". Retrieved 2015-10-06. 
  2. ^ Bonnie, O'Connell, RJ, ME (2004). "National Research Council and Institute of Medicine, Reducing Underage Drinking: A Collective Responsibility.". The National Academies Press. 
  3. ^ Bell, Steven, Jim Orford, and Annie Britton. "Heavy Drinking Days and Mental Health: An Exploration of the Dynamic 10‐year Longitudinal Relationship in a Prospective Cohort of Untreated Heavy Drinkers." Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, 39.4 (2015): 688-696.
  4. ^ Wechsler, Henry, Jae Eun Lee, Toben Nelson, and Meichun Kuo. "Underage College Students' Drinking Behavior, Access to Alcohol, and the Influence of Deterrence Policies." Journal of American College Health, 50.5 (2002): 223-236.