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College Drinking: Is it Really a Problem?

March 18, 2009 By: Category: Campus Life, Campus parties

College: It’s not just about the hours of lectures and endless reading assignments. It’s not just about getting good grades and living on your own. There’s a social aspect too. Before I went to college, I had person after person tell me what a “well-rounded” individual I would become. What did they mean? What would I encounter that I didn’t already experience in high school? Well, they sure were right. Not only did my wide range of classes, level of independence, and countless amounts of activities shape who I’ve become, but I had to learn to balance a social life as well. Sometimes, your social life can be just as demanding as your academic one.


Photo by Flippy Rice

It’s easy to think of college as an all-day party. The media constantly portrays the college scene with students chugging drink after drink. College isn’t all about drinking and partying but it is a pretty big aspect of weekend life. At school, I’ve been to all sorts of parties– parties with alcohol and parties without alcohol. By now, I have a pretty good handle about what I’m going to see and experience on the weekends. Fortunately, I’m one of the lucky ones. I like to relax on the weekends but partying isn’t everything to me… I go to school for academics… but as a freshman, it might be easy to fall into the comfort of having no supervision around.

So is college drinking an actual problem? Or just another aspect of college life? According to College Drinking: Reframing a Social Problem, George W. Dowdall, professor of sociology at Saint Joseph’s University thinks students might be falling into the trap of chugging beers and taking shots. A 2002 Task Force on College Drinking by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimated that from 1,400 to 1,700 students died annually from drinking-related problems.

Last semester, I taught a freshman introductory course. We went over basic stuff like good study habits and learning to live with your roommate. One of my favorite sections of the class was substance abuse prevention. Many of my students were shocked by the subjects we talked about. Some even admitted to not knowing that they were binge drinking. When I asked them if you could overdose on alcohol, they laughed saying that you can only overdose on drugs. Well alcohol is a drug and you can overdose on it. The liver can only process about 0.6 oz of alcohol an hour. If too much alcohol is consumed, your heartbeat or breathing could shut down causing death. Pretty scary, huh?

College drinking is almost unavoidable. If you go to a party, someone will most likely be drinking. Just be smart about it. College drinking really is a problem, but it doesn’t have to be. Know your limits. This is different for a guy and a girl! Height and weight play a huge role in the amount of alcohol one can consume. I bet you’ve heard a million times to not drink and drive… but I’ll tell you again, don’t! According to UMADD 2.1 million drive under the influence each year.

I’m not going to tell you not to party, that’s just crazy! It’s one of the aspects that turns college students into that “well-rounded” individual I was talking about. Be smart. Be safe.