Is College Alcohol Consumption Just Partying or Alcohol Addiction?

by: Mike Miller

What do you think of when you remember your college experience? Is it going to class and studying for exams? Watching your foodball team win some games? Well for me I just remember what I spent a lot of my time doing... partying.

The statistics say that drinking is ingrained in the life of college students in the U.S. Some might call it a cancer. Research has shown that over 75% of college students drank alcohol in the past month and half of those say that they got drunk during that same month. It's more drinking that people in society at large.

Party In College Hollywood Style

The movies have always depicted the fun parts of being in college revolving around drinking and going to parties. Look at older films like Animal House or even new ones like The Social Network. Students aren't having a good time when they're throwing the frisbee on the quad. They have fun when they are tapping the keg.

While these stats might alarm you, you should also take a look at the longer-term effect drinking alcohol during while attending university has on the people who do it. As a director for alcohol awareness classes, I often query my the students that went to college about how much they drank.

Obviously it's not the most unbiased group (they are taking an alcohol class after all), but 75% of my students have attended college and 9 out of 10 said they drank during college. So my next question is:

Is College Drinking Fun or Addiction?

My personal feeling is that it's both fun and an addiction. Lots of people drink to lower their inhibitions and make them feel more comfortable interacting socially. Clearly alcohol is not needed for this, but it's an easy way, a shortcut to get to the point where you feel more comfortable being social. The fun immediately follows from that.sistance.

Drinking beers at an occasional gathering, maybe even becoming a little tipsy, is for most people not harmful. Some might write that off as just part of the college experience. After college they go back to not drinking that much or maybe even quitting altogether.

Is it Leading to Addiction?

But there are others (and I count myself as one of those others) where this drinking laid the foundation for future addiction problems. More than 80% of my students in their 20s don't think they're alcoholics, and most deny their drinking alcohol during their formative teenage era contributed to their levels of drinking now.

We are Creatures of Habit

People are by nature habitual. Most of us have a routine by which we live our lives. Drinking or not drinking is a habit. If you consume alcohol only occasionally and have that one cocktail on your special night out with your boyfriend or wife you have a drinking habit. But this isn't the sort of habit that's a drinking problem habit. One might argue that the glass of red wine is even a healthy habit.

Our habits are not permanent, as you can see by the students who returned to a lighter and more normal drinking pattern when they leave school.

Try to Think of your Past Drinking

Think for a moment about your drinking habits when you were a teenager, then in your 20s and 30s (if you are that old) and every subseqent decade.

If you notice a pattern of escalation or even maintaining high drinking levels, maybe it's time to think about changing that habit. Don't let the pattern of drinking a lot in college continue as a habit into later than life. Maybe you don't need to drink so much. And don't be afraid to ask for help if you reach this conclusion.

Give yourself an honest evaluation. If you think you have a problem, I urge you to seek help. In addition to programs like Alcoholics Anonymous there are online alcohol classes and online alcohol awareness classes that can be taken from home that can be of help.