October 20, 2020

How Binge Drinking affects College students

Binge drinking among young adults is considered a significant public health concern in the United States. Consuming alcohol in college has become a tradition that many students believe is considered an essential part of their higher education experience.

According to the 2018 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 54.9% of full-time college students that are 18 to 22 years old consume alcohol in the past month, and 36.9% of college students engage in binge drinking during that same time frame. Binge drinking is a pattern of drinking that makes an individual’s blood concentration level to 0.08%. Binge drinking occurs after a man consumes five or more drinks and woman consumes four or more drinks during a two-hour time frame. 

Below will discuss developmental factors, risk factors, and consequences that binge drinking negatively impacts college students. Finally, there are various interventions that can prevent college students from engaging in binge drinking.

Developmental and Social Factors

  • Developmental and social factors are considered significant contributors to binge drinking among college students.
  • Factors associated with consuming high amounts of alcohol and alcohol-related problems include young adults aged 18 to 24 years old moving out of their parents’ home, attending college, and when there’s decreased parental involvement.
  • Living in a college environment is known to increase heavy rates of alcohol consumption.
  • The majority of the factors that are attributed to high rates of binge drinking among young adults occur socially.
  • For instance, heavy drinking is considered a social norm among college students.

Risk Factors

  • Developmental and social factors are considered significant contributors to binge drinking among college students.
  • Factors associated with consuming high amounts of alcohol and alcohol-related problems include young adults aged 18 to 24 years old moving out of their parents’ home, attending college, and when there’s decreased parental involvement.
  • Living in a college environment is known to increase heavy rates of alcohol consumption.
  • The majority of the factors that are attributed to high rates of binge drinking among young adults occur socially.
  • For instance, heavy drinking is considered a social norm among college students.
  • Demographic factors such as age and sex are associated with binge drinking rates among college students.
  • Individuals who started drinking before age 16 are more likely to binge drink in college.
  • Male college students are more likely than female students to engage in binge drinking.
  • Binge drinking has been positively linked with anxiety and impulsive sensation-seeking.
  • It was found that women who engage in binge drinking score high on neuroticism-anxiety, but men score high on impulsivity and sensation-
    seeking.
  • Individuals who have high levels of antisocial personality disorder have a higher risk in binge drinking.
  • Studies have reported that attitudes towards drinking can significantly influence the likelihood for an individual to binge drink.
  • Many individuals who drink to help cope with a problem or if individuals drink in order to fit in with their peers are associated with binge drinking.
  • Individuals who consume alcohol for the purpose of getting intoxicated are more likely to engage in binge drinking.
  • Studies have shown that specific events promote college students to engage in heavy drinking and high rates of binge drinking. For instance, these high-risk drinking events include homecoming, athletic events, weddings, and graduations. Other common events that are associated with excessive drinking among college students include spring break, pregame partying, and drinking games.
  • Social influences among close relationships is known to contribute to increased risk of binge drinking.
  • College students have a higher risk in binge drinking when their parents are alcoholics, have friends who drink, and participate in Greek life.
  • Peer drinking and the use of drugs such as cigarettes and marijuana are linked with an increased risk of binge drinking.

Consequences of Binge Drinking

  •  Negative Emotional outcomes: Binge drinkers are known to suffer from depression and anxiety compared to nondrinkers.
  • Students who binge drink are twice as likely to report having thoughts of suicide. Frequent binge drinkers in young adults have an increased risk for
    depression.
  • Negative Social Outcomes: Binge drinkers are known to be involved in negative interpersonal interactions and fail to meet relational obligations.
  • Frequent binge drinkers are twice as likely to go through interpersonal consequences. These interpersonal consequences include arguing with
    friends and physical fights.
  • Binge drinkers are more likely to be absent for classes and perform poorly  in school.
  • Alcohol use and abuse disorders: Binge drinking is linked to increased likelihood to alcohol use disorders.
  • Binge drinkers are known to consume twice the amount of alcohol per week compared to non-binge drinkers. Occasional and frequent binge drinkers are associated with greater risk of alcohol abuse and more dependent on alcohol compared to non-binge drinkers.

Protective Factors that can prevent binge drinking

  • Reducing the normative misperception of heavy drinking is considered an effective intervention. Heavy drinkers are more likely to believe that heavy
    drinking is considered normal and this will cause individuals to overestimate drinking norms.
  • Cultures: Certain cultural climates promote a normative perception of disapproval toward excessive drinking. When cultures promote disapproval toward
    excessive drinking, it will protect individuals against binge drinking. For instance, parental disapproval of alcohol use protects against binge drinking.
  • Neighborhood norms: Neighborhood norms are known to be against heavy drinking, which ends
    up protecting college students from binge drinking.
  • Close friends: Drinking with close friends who encourage safe drinking significantly protects against the negative consequences of excessive drinking.
  • Protective behavioral strategies: College drinking that occurs in locations that provides food or water reduces negative alcohol consequences. Drinking that occurs in bars is considered regulated because bartenders are trained to stop serving individuals who seem intoxicated.

Prevention Programs for college drinking interventions

  • Individual-level intervention programs are known to help reduce alcohol use and alcohol-related problems among college students.
  • Brief motivational interventions (BMI): An individual-level intervention that is delivered via mail, online, or in person are proven effective.
  • BMIs are focused on enhancing motivation and commitment to change problematic behavior such as drinking. BMIs are known to provide
    personalized feedback regarding the individual’s drinking and related consequences, alcohol expectancies, and drinking motives.
  • Personalized Feedback Intervention (PFI): When BMIs are given without a trained health educator, the personalized feedback component of the BMI is known as a personalized feedback intervention (PFI). It is known that BMIs and PFIs often include general alcohol education and alcohol specific coping skills.
  • Personalized Normative Feedback (PNF): PFIs include personalized normative feedback called PNF. PNF is a type of feedback that compares an individual’s self-reporting drinking behavior to the average drinking behavior. PNF is known to encourage individuals to enhance their perception of their “typical” drinking compared to the drinking behaviors of their peers.
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References:

Center for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC]. (2019). Binge Drinking. Retrieved
From https://www.cdc.gov/alcohol/fact-sheets/binge-drinking.htm#:~:text=Binge%20drinkin20is%20defined%20as,drinks%20in%20about%202%20hours.

Cronce, J. M., & Larimer, M. E. (2011). Individual-focused approaches to the prevention of college student drinking. Alcohol research & health : the journal of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 34(2), 210–221.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3342066/

Krieger, H., Young, C. M., Anthenien, A. M., & Neighbors, C. (2018). The Epidemiology of Binge Drinking Among College-Age Individuals in the United States. Alcohol research : current reviews, 39(1), 23–30. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6104967/
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [NIH]. (2020). College Drinking. Retrieved by https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-
sheets/college-drinking.
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [NIH]. (2020). Fall Semester-A Time for Parents To Discuss the Risks of College Drinking
https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/time-for-parents-discuss-risks-college-drinking
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Nicolette Fascenelli

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