Binge Drinking in College is Common and Dangerous

In honor of Alcohol Awareness Month, we would like to discuss college drinking. Individuals who drink too much at university are at a higher risk of drinking heavily after graduation. Provided however that alcohol use does not lead to their dropping out ahead of commencement.

Writing for the Harvard University Health Blog, Dr. Marcelo Campos considers when alcohol use is a problem. He asks:

How many times in the past year have you had five (for men) or four (for women) or more drinks in a day? A response equal to or greater than “once” identifies, on average, eight out of 10 people with AUD [alcohol use disorder]. A positive answer should trigger a more thorough evaluation in a doctor’s office, or least stimulate a reflection about one’s drinking behavior. 

Many young people consider drinking in college their right, regardless if they are of legal age. Come the weekend, hordes of young adults descend upon parties to drink the night away. Some will imbibe responsibly, while others will push the envelope. Binge drinking and college life often go hand-in-hand. That is the practice of having four drinks for women and five for men within two hours, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Most men and women who binge drink from time-to-time will not develop an alcohol use disorder. However, a statistically significant number of young people will; intervening while in college could impel some young people to make changes or seek help.

Addressing Alcohol Use Early In Life

binge drinking in college

Alcohol use disorder affects the lives of millions of American adults, and hundreds of thousands of teenagers. It is a progressive mental illness that can have disastrous consequences if left untreated. Unfortunately, twenty-year-olds tend to chalk up heavy drinking as being a part of young adulthood. Those who may have a problem can convince themselves that all their peers have similar relationships with alcohol.

Nearly 60 percent of college students ages 18-22 drank alcohol in the past month, according to SAMHSA. Almost two-thirds of them engaged in binge drinking throughout the same period.

Brushing off blackout drinking as simply college culture is risky. Men and women may ignore the problem because they think that they are no different than other people in their 20s. The result is that AUD persists for many more years, in some cases; and, prolonged heavy drinking leads to more health problems. Research published recently in the British Medical Journal shows that fatal liver disease is on the rise, especially among young people.

As we pointed out last week, more than a third of hospital beds in the U.S. are being used to treat individuals with an alcohol-related illness. We do not highlight such startling statistic to scare young people into abstinence. Instead, we hope to encourage young adults, who think that they may have a problem, to seek professional guidance.

It is vital to keep in mind that binge drinking does not mean a person has an alcohol use disorder. Just that a large number of people with AUDs have a history of risky drinking patterns. Like Marcelo Campos, M.D., notes, those who binge drank in the last year should reflect on their relationship with alcohol and seek assistance from their doctor for evaluation.

Alcohol Use Disorder Treatment for Young Adults

Young adults whose drinking has become a problem are invited to reach out to Hemet Valley Recovery Center & Sage Retreat for support. Parents of young adult children that drink heavily are welcome to contact us as well. We offer age-specific treatment programming that caters to the unique needs of younger demographics.

At HVRC, we understand that seeking addiction treatment in young adulthood is not a simple task. However, receiving assistance now can position one for achieving their goals later in life. Please do not hesitate; take the first step by contacting our admissions staff to begin the assessment process.