The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence endorses Alcohol Awareness Month each April. They encourage the public to speak out about the dangers of alcohol abuse, alcoholism and recovery.
With binge drinking being so common among students due to high-stress levels, the dangers of alcohol abuse can be destructive to college success.
Dangers of binge drinking
Among students, binge drinking can be a common, exhilarating activity. Binge drinking involves consuming more than 4 drinks for women or 5 drinks for men within two hours. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) found that nearly 60 percent of students ages 18-22 drink, and two-thirds of this group report engaging in binge drinking.
Although binge drinking may seem normal in college, it poses serious adverse risks. The same study found that nearly 1,825 students ages 18-24 die from alcohol-related injuries and 97,000 students are a victim of sexual assault or rape while alcohol is involved each year. Perhaps the most shocking finding from this study is that nearly 20 percent of students meet the basis for having an alcohol use disorder.
Stress and drinking
Pressure from classes can place a lot of stress on students. These stress levels can increase significantly during exams, as students are hastily packing in as much studying as possible. Stress can also be related to pressures from family, peers and relationships. When trying to balance all of these factors with school, stress can become plentiful. Since alcohol is a depressant, many find it effective in relieving stress.
In order to manage stress in a healthy way, students should be aware of the resources available to them. Many schools have a mental health counselor who can provide guidance on how to effectively manage stress. Other ways that can help reduce stress include exercise, yoga, meditation, time management and support groups.
Evaluate your relationship with alcohol
An important part of Alcohol Awareness Month is Alcohol Free Weekend from April 5-7. People are invited to participate in 72 hours without alcohol. If you experience any discomfort or difficulty abstaining during these hours, you may have a problem with alcohol.
Differentiating between heavy drinking and alcoholism may prove difficult, but you can evaluate your relationship with alcohol by asking these questions:
- Has drinking caused problems with your family, friends, or studies?
- Have you continued to drink even when you shouldn’t?
- Have you tried to quit, or control the amount you drink, but were unable to?
- Do you experience cravings, or strong desires, to drink?
- Have you found yourself consuming increasing amounts of alcohol to achieve the effects you desire?
- Have you placed drinking as a priority over your other obligations?
- Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when not drinking?
If you answer yes to several or all of these questions, it is an indication that your alcohol use is unhealthy, and you may have an alcohol use disorder. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, it is essential to get the help you need before it causes detrimental effects on your health, education, and future career.