How Does Drinking Affect Students?

by Owen R. Smith

    For college students and even some high schoolers, drinking and partying can be a way of life. Many might think these activities represent simple fun with few drawbacks, but drinking can have a serious negative impact on a student's health and education. Drinking occasionally might be fine, but excessive alcohol use can result in several undesired consequences.

    Binge drinking often is associated with the college experience. According to the College Alcohol Study, binge drinking is defined as men who have had at least five drinks in a row at least once within a two-week timeframe and women who have had at least four consecutive drinks at least once in the same span. You might not think of binge drinking by that specific definition, but it serves as a good point of reference if you are wondering whether you might be a binge drinker.

    One of the first signs that drinking is affecting your life as a student is when your grades start to drop. Drinking has a serious and noticeable effect on your memory. According to a Brain and Alcohol Research With College Students study, binge drinking can have a specific impact on your first year of college. Not only can drinking affect your memory, it can also cause you to lose sleep or get poor-quality sleep. This can cause you to miss class, which can often have a detrimental effect on your grades. Purdue University reports that 25 percent of all students said that alcohol has affected their grades.

    Many students who binge drink or even simply drink socially can be exposed to the risk of alcohol poisoning, according to Harvard University research. It is very easy for people who are not yet experienced with alcohol to drink far too much in a short span of time. This can cause you to blackout or lose partial memory of events. In severe cases, drinking too much, especially too quickly, can cause acute alcohol poisoning, which can be fatal. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism says that 599,000 students a year are injured from alcohol abuse and that 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related causes. According to Harvard, drinking can also become an issue specific to women's health, because 10 percent of female binge drinkers will report being raped.

    Drinking can also affect how you relate to others, including your friends and family members. According to First Step Services, an organization that helps treat drug and alcohol dependency, friends and family are often put through quite a bit when it comes to dealing with a loved one with a drinking problem. This can include experiencing guilt, anger, shame and other negative emotions and can even mean hitting rock bottom right alongside the student with the drinking problem. If you have a severe problem, you might not even be aware of your frayed relationships until it is too late.

    About the Author

    Owen R. Smith is a client relations manager for Bridgewater Digital who has held staff positions with the "East Oregonian" and" The Oregonian." He began his professional writing career at the "Portland State Vanguard," which included stints as news editor, copy editor and editor-in-chief. He published his first book in 2010.

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