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Is Your College Student Abusing Alcohol?

College is a time of experimentation and popular culture lets us know that cram sessions are just as likely as keggers. It’s a right of passage, right?

Kids need to blow off steam when they aren’t studying and college should be one of the best times in their life. They are making memories. Unfortunately, the consequences of college drinking—specifically the alcohol abuse disorders signaled by binge drinking—are costly to your child’s health and wellbeing.

If your college student isn’t prepared (and sometimes even if they are) it can be extremely easy to slip into problematic drinking patterns. Studies show that college students drink more heavily than their non-college peers and that they increase their drinking very rapidly, which can lead to more troubling patterns. Given the power of peer pressure, even the most motivated college student can develop and alcohol addiction.

If you are the parent or guardian of a college student, you may be right in worrying about their drinking. In addition, their drinking may also be putting them at risk for other substance abuse disorders and general risks to their overall health. You probably did all you could to educate them and to protect them, but you can’t control everything. You need help.

To get help finding treatment centers, learning about alcohol addiction, and accessing resources, call at 800-256-3490 and speak with someone knowledgeable. They can hold your hand as you guide your child to the help they need.

Alcohol Abuse

Student Abusing Alcohol

Alcohol abuse can lead to a decrease in academic performance.

You might be wondering how widespread alcohol abuse is on college campuses. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) lists the following facts:

  • Frequency of Drinking: In 2014, 59.8 percent of full-time college students ages 18–22 drank alcohol in the past month compared with 51.5 percent of their non-college peers.
  • Frequency of Binge Drinking: In 2014, 37.9 percent of college students ages 18–22 engaged in binge drinking (5 or more drinks on an occasion) in the past month compared with 33.5 percent of their non-college peers.
  • Frequency of Heavy Drinking: In 2014, 12.2 percent of college students ages 18–22 engaged in heavy drinking (5 or more drinks on an occasion on 5 or more occasions per month) in the past month compared with 9.5 percent of their non-college peers.

Binge Drinking

Binge Drinking is a term that gets thrown about a lot and it can be hard to determine what that actually means. If you worry that your child is binge drinking, are you worrying about them drinking a six-pack of beer or about them downing a bottle of vodka?

The NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings blood alcohol concentration levels to 0.08. This stereotypically occurs after 4 drinks for women and 5 drinks for men, over a period of 2 hours.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), who conduct the annual National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), defines binge drinking as drinking 5 or more alcoholic drinks in the same circumstance on at least 1 day out of the past 30 days.

Based on both of these definitions, the six-pack and the bottle would both be considered binge drinking. A study funded by the National Institutes of Health showed a single alcohol binge could cause bacteria to leak from the gut and could increase levels of bacterial toxins in the blood. That’s terrifying.

The 12.2 percent of college students engaged in heavy drinking are actually drinking 5 or more drinks during one occasion on 5 or more days out of a consecutive 30. That’s a lot of drinking. And the risks may seem obvious, but I bet you haven’t thought of all of them.

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The Risks

The NIAAA has compiled some startling findings:

  • 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintended injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.
  • 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are physically attacked by another student who has been drinking.
  • 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report undergoing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
  • Roughly 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder.
  • About 1 in 4 college students report academic penalties from drinking, such as missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.

If you feel your child may be at risk and you want to get him or her help, the time to start is now. Call at 800-256-3490 and get the help you and your child need.

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