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Alcohol abuse on college campuses has reached a point where it is far more destructive than most people and today realize and today threatens too many of our youth. -Senator Joe LiebermanWhy do college students drink so much? This timeless fad has effected this generation in high percentages since the beginning of college education. Today in America it is estimated that approximately 29% of college students are regular alcohol abusers. Another recent study by the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism performed showed that college students suffered 1,400 deaths, 70,000 date rapes and assaults, and 500,000 injuries each year as a result of alcohol. (McDonald) Although binge drinking (5+ drinks in one sitting) is considered a normal part of the college experience many factors contribute to whether or not an individual is more prone to be an abuser.Everyday, people are injured or killed in alcohol related accidents. These accidents have a direct effect on family and friends as well. Being one of few legal controlled substances in the U.S., alcohol is easily accessible for minors and is a large part of the teenage party culture. Because the abuse of alcohol often begins with adolescents and young adults, most research is based around them. Through these studies we learn what drives teens to drink and the consequences for their actions.
Researchers from the University of Alabama were able to show several reasons that provide incentives for adolescents to consume alcohol. Using a written survey, it was determined that the high school students being studied used alcohol to cope with problems in their lives, including task-oriented , emotion Oriented , and avoidance coping (Windle). The only major differences in results between sexes became obvious when it was shown by Windle that girls were more likely to use alcohol for avoidance and emotion-oriented coping than boys. Boys however, are more likely to have alcohol related problems and addictions (Windle). Another find throughout the researching process was that adolescents drank less often for social reasons than for the aforementioned coping reasons (Windle). A surprising result of this study was that students drank more frequently as a result of positive daily events than negative daily events (Windle). This suggests that while young people do in fact drink because they unhappy, they are more likely to drink because of something that has happened to them recently. Alcoholism is also thought to be passed genetically from parents to their children. By comparing males with a family history of alcoholism to males with a history without alcoholism, a relationship between genetics and alcoholism, and alcoholic children can be determined.
While quantity of consumption of children of alcoholics (COA ) and non-COA were similar, COA were more than twice more likely to be diagnostically determined alcoholics than were the non-COA (Chavez). This test, which was administered by Nelba Chavez, of the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that one can drink as much as an alcoholic, but not actually be an alcoholic themselves. This may contribute to a lack of social understanding of alcoholism. The idea of an alcoholic being someone who habitually abuses the use of alcohol is partially incorrect. The definition of an alcoholic is someone who is genetically pre-disposed to alcoholism or addiction (Chavez). Another approach to researching alcoholism was exercised by Sher, Hurlbut, Brazeal and Wood. In their studies they showed the differences between expectancies related to alcohol of COA and non-COA over a four-year period of time. What they found was that COA drank much more frequently to reduce tension, become more social, make activities more interesting and perform better than non-COA (Sher et. al.) At the same time there was a general decrease in drinking for these reasons from the time the study began to its completion four years later (Sher et. al.) This research displays important insight into the reasons for alcohol use, and could provide better treatment for alcoholic COA than is currently being provided. From this, we can deduce that parental alcoholism is not the only cause of increased alcohol abuse among adolescents. The additional life aspects of having an alcoholic parent are the other reasons adolescents drink. These aspects may include spending less time with one child and external expressions of alcoholism such as violence or depression, that may cause a child to deal as less as possible with the alcoholic parent.Alcohol is a huge problem on most college campuses. Twenty-one may be the legal drinking age, but some how college minors find a way to get a hold of alcohol. College students have a tendency to drink more then the general population. A test administered by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) shows that college students spend approximately $4.2 billion annually an alcohol. This money is spent on 430 gallons of alcoholic beverages, and 4 million cans of beer (Shalala). The type of college, geographical location, and the ethnic and gender makeup plays a role in the amount of drinking that occurs on campus (Shalala). For example colleges with fraternities and sororities have higher statistics, this is because of their sponsored parties. They drink more often, which contributes to heavier drinking. College Students drink more when they are in a group (Shalala). When it comes to drinking on campus there is no legal age so to speak. When someone goes to a party they don’t get carded, they get a cup. Also students between the ages of 18-21 drink more then those that are over 21 (Shalala). Forty one percent of college students report to binge drinking, and nearly four percent drink daily (Shalala). Binge drinking is defined as four drinks for women in one sitting, and five drinks for a male in one sitting. Students that binge drink have even more problems then students who don’t. Binge drinkers are more likely to have hangovers and engage themselves in unplanned sexual activity. In another NIAAA recent study 56,000 college students reported a slip in their grades. Students went from A’s to D’s and F’s, their GPA’s dropped which will affects their future career plans as well as any scholarships they are receiving.A report from the University of Richmond told a story about a female college freshman that experienced a horrible situation after a night of drinking. It said that she remembered how hard it was to leave behind her family and friends, she remembered having to face the fact that she was a freshman again and how all she wanted was to be well-liked and to fit-in but one thing she does not remember at all is the night she was raped by two freshman males in a room full of people. Her second week of school she willingly attended a party where she proceeded to take many shots of vodka until she got to the point that she was going in and out of consciousness. As a result of her binge drinking this girl did not discover until weeks later that these boys took turns having sex with her, put a lampshade on her head, and wrote all over her face, all while in front of an audience.The underlying reason for college students to drink is that people who participate frequently in this activity crave sensation. One study has shown that a typical American college student will spend more money on alcohol during college than textbooks. Perhaps the most common answer to why students drink so much is the initial rebellion from the freedom gained by moving out of their parent home. Individuals who do not develop a dependence in most cases decrease binge-drinking habits after their freshman year. After all, college years are as much a time of social development and emotional growth as they are academics. Many students feel that through functions with alcohol these factors of social development and emotional growth will increase. In few circumstances, including lesson learning has this found to be true. In many surveys students blatantly replied that the reason they were binge drinkers was to get drunk fast. Many binge-drinkers are also classified as anticipatory drinkers, which means they drink heavily before a party in order to get ahead of others. (Straus 138) Alcohol is not in anyway shape or form a milder alternative to other drugs or narcotics. Its mass production and legalization in this country make it a more accepted drug. The idea of alcohol being milder than other drugs is deceptive and untrue. Not only is alcohol dangerous but it is also in the top 5 causes of deaths in the United States. Teenage drinking is amongst the most tragic of deaths. Teens drink for curiosity and to act like adults. Parents are a strong influence for teenagers not to drink or limit the use of alcohol by young people. If none of the parents in the United States drank, then neither would most of their children (Haskins, 105). Teenage drinking is getting to the point where the age group is getting younger and younger. It is not uncommon to find alcohol problems in nine, ten, and twelve year olds (Haskins, 91). It is difficult to even assume that a problem of this magnitude can be stopped.
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