College drinking can lead to problems

Katy Murray
Staff Writer

National Collegiate Alcohol Awareness Week
Oct. 18-22
FREE T-shirt and prizes awarded with a Grand Prize drawing at the end of the week.
  1. Wednesday - Paper Airplane Throw
    • Cafeteria Balcony 11 a.m.- 2 p.m.
  2. Thursday and Friday - Alcohol 101 Virtual Bar
    • Gateway Lab, Harris Hall 210
   Alcoholism and alcohol abuse pose a real problem for many college students. A proactive approach and a better understanding of the subject could help prevent this widespread plague.

   According to recent studies, one or two drinks per day are considered moderate alcohol use. However college students have a hard time controlling their alcohol usage. This harmful practice results in the development of drinking problems.

   Alcoholism, or “alcohol dependence,” can be identified by four symptoms: craving, loss of control, physical dependence, tolerance. This disease makes a person’s need for alcohol as strong as the need for food or water. If a dependency develops, oftentimes willpower alone can not cure the disease. Many alcoholics need assistance such as treatment and moral support to recover.

   College students, however, tend to be more prone to develop another form of the disease, alcohol abuse. This type may result in the following:
      • Failure to fulfill school, work or home responsibilities.
      • Drinking in physically dangerous situations, such as while driving a car.
      • Alcohol-related legal problems.
      • Continued drinking despite relationship problems caused or worsened by the drinking.

   Oftentimes college students may be more exposed to this lifestyle because they spend a great deal of time in socially normal situations where drinking just happens to be taking place. The highest affected group of college students usually includes those involved in Greek organizations.

   Students can also be at a greater risk because of pure geography. Statistics done by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show the proximity of an alcohol retailer to be directly related to the levels of alcohol abuse within the campus community (on or off campus).

   The University of Arkansas at Monticello has two positive reasons why fewer incidents occur on campus though. First of all no fraternity or sorority houses reside on the campus grounds. Secondly students have to go out of their way to obtain alcohol because Monticello lies in a dry county.

   The social scene on a college campus may be another cause of greater alcohol use among students. This habitat grants acceptance to deviant behavior called “folkways.” Folkways consist of easily broken boundaries and they do not receive punishment as severe as their counterpart, “mores,” which would be a crime like murder or rape. People have an easier time accepting a person arrested for pubic intoxication than a convicted child molester who would receive the third degree.

   Alcohol, like many other drugs, allows one to become uninhibited. With the stress and peer pressure of adolescent life, drinking becomes a very appealing option for many college students. It can grant a temporary escape from problems and a coveted freedom that many young people only imagine.

   Consequences come attached to almost all alcohol abuse. In the past year, for example, 31 percent of college students met criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse according to the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. These students also happen to be more likely to be involved in motor vehicle crashes, assaults, sexual abuse, unsafe sex, academic problems, health problems, suicide attempts, vandalism, property damage and incidents which result in police involvement.

   A proactive approach could help prevent alcoholism and alcohol abuse among young people. Many campuses across the United States have formed campus and community coalitions or “task forces” to aide in the effort.

   Police can also be a very effective tool in prevention. Increased enforcement of minimum drinking age laws and harsher punishments for violators could counter the temptation to drink and especially to drink and drive.

   Also increased publicity of prevention, lower blood alcohol limits, a new law making it illegal for people under 21 to drive after any drinking, increased price and taxes on alcoholic beverages and ID checks could be other options to help in the effort.

   Alcohol makes liquor manufactures approximately $35 billion a year in revenues, according to the NIAAA; they can probably afford the loss of a few college alcohol abusers. However the attitudes of college students in their “prime drinking years” have led to a rise in the amount of binge drinkers. A recent study showed 50 percent of men and 39 percent of women at college to be binge drinkers. If their destructive patterns continue, they will likely join the ranks of adult alcoholics, who make up one in every 13 adults.

   Many organizations have developed to combat this problem and have effectively produced results and plans to help colleges across the country. The groups include Challenging College Alcohol Abuse, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse Alcoholism and Alcoholics Anonymous. For more information about how to treat alcoholism or alcohol abuse, contact a doctor or healthcare provider.

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The Voice, 2004
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