Binge Drinking Among College Students and Consequences Essay
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Binge drinking is a problem that has continued to have a toll on the lives of college students despite efforts by the government and school administrators to curb the trend. Many studies have been conducted to reveal the facts behind binge drinking in colleges and campuses. It is clear that for the problem of binge drinking in colleges to be resolved, it must all start by understanding the factors that influence college students to engage in this behaviour and the impacts that binge drinking have had on the lives of college students.
This is because students who do engage in binge drinking have their reasons to justify their behaviour but often have failed to recognize the magnitude of risks that they are exposed to by binge drinking. Among the government initiatives to reduce this problem has been to increase the national drinking age though this has not had much impact on the level of binge drinking among college students according to several studies.
It is worth noting that many students have been indulging in binge drinking with the excuse that it is normal as per the culture in their colleges. There are other factors that influence college students to binge drink including environmental, social, developmental, and cognitive factors. Though most students who binge drink defend their behaviour by citing the positive side of binge drinking such as curbing stress and elevating self-confidence, the consequences are often costly and regrettable. This essay provides an argument on the factors that influence college students to indulge in binge drinking, including the various false beliefs about alcohol consumption. In addition, the essay will shed light on the consequences of binge drinking and show that contrary to the tendency of college students to glamorize binge drinking, it is a risky and costly endeavour. Binge drinking has been defined as heavy episodic alcohol consumption in which men end up taking five or more drinks in a sitting while women take four or more drinks in a sitting (Nelson and Wechsler 287).
The prevalence of binge drinking on college campuses has remained high, posing serious health, academic, social, and legal implications. In order to understand binge drinking, it is worth mentioning that drinking is measured in terms of frequency or quantity. While quantity refers to how much, frequency is concerned with measuring how often consumption takes place. A drinking behaviour qualifies as binge drinking if large quantities of alcohol are consumed within a short time frame (Binge Drinking). By looking at the history and prevalence of binge drinking among college students, it leaves no doubt that changing drinking age over time has had little impact on the prevalence of drinking on college campuses. Beer drinking among college students is not a new phenomenon as tales dating back to 19th century are told of college students engaging in drinking. A survey conducted by Yale University researchers in 1949 gave an idea of the prevalence of drinking on college campuses.
The survey found that 6% of women and 17% of men engaged in drinking more than once per week. In the 1960s and 70s the minimum drinking age in many states was set at 18 to agree with the requirement that those joining the military ought to be old enough to drink (Dietz 88). However, this action only paved way for increased drinking on college campuses given that now drinking was legal. The government had to act swiftly to arrest this trend and in 1984, the minimum drinking age was set at 21. Even then, the level of drinking remained almost the same as most college students had attained this age and thus regarded themselves as being entitled to drink (Krock). Drinking rates over the past 20 years have remained relatively at the same level and now it is estimated that 80-90% of college students are into drinking. Heavy drinkers constitute 15-25% of college students and 44% of college students report frequent or occasional binge drinking (Dietz 88).
These statistics are indicative of the fact that binge drinking is a problem that is deep rooted in other factors such as the kind of cultures in colleges, environmental, cognitive, and developmental factors. Therefore, altering the national drinking age while it has shown positive impacts in the general population in terms of decreasing the prevalence of binge drinking, cannot offer a comprehensive solution to the same problem in colleges (Krock). The culture of drinking on campus has contributed a great deal to the high prevalence of binge drinking. While acknowledging the fact that unique cultures exist among individual colleges, these individual cultures harbour certain sub-cultures that encourage excessive consumption of alcohol. Within these sub-cultures, a common message is perpetuated that drinking is a normal and essential component of social interaction. Therefore, many college students conduct themselves in a manner that agrees with what the prevailing culture dictates (Hope and Ham 727). The culture of drinking on college campuses is composed of a number of elements. The first element is drinking events which encourage students to indulge in drinking to mark certain events (Dietz 89).
In the same way that universities and colleges have a strong sense of tradition, the drinking culture has deep roots in most colleges. Therefore, many students engage in binge drinking in the process of honouring certain events that to them require people to drink in order for the commemoration to have real meaning (Dietz 89). In as much as the culture of drinking in many colleges and universities is difficult to do away with, it has only served to make students make the wrong decision of involving themselves in heavy episodic drinking characteristic of binge drinking. The bottom line is that in the disguise of marking particular events, many college students involve themselves in binge drinking thus exposing themselves to detrimental consequences. Drinking games is an element of drinking culture in colleges that have contributed to the high prevalence of binge drinking. In some colleges, students have tended to glamorize the aspect of drinking alcohol to the extent that drinking games are held in which students compete in drinking alcohol. Some drinking games are highly competitive while others just dictate rules regarding how much participants are expected to drink (Dietz 89).
Nevertheless, the fact is that whether a drinking is highly competitive or not, by the virtue of portraying drinking as totally harmless, such games have encouraged binge drinking to the detriment of many students. It is true to say that in order to create opportunities for excessive drinking, students in many colleges have perpetuated drinking games entrenched in the culture of drinking. A good example of a drinking game in colleges is Beer Pong in which 6-16 cups partially filled with alcohol are taken by each team. The person playing the game is expected to throw a ping-pong ball aiming at the opponent’s cup across the table. If the ball lands into the partially filled cup, the opponent has to drink the content. The team that runs out of cups first is considered the loser (Dietz 89). By considering the nature of such a game, it is prudent to note that its objective is to encourage excessive drinking judging by the number of cups involved.
Therefore, students who get involved in such games more often than not end up binge drinking in the name of having fun but in reality exposes themselves to negative consequences. Another important factor which makes college students to indulge in binge drinking is the kind of choices they make in terms of the groups they want to identify themselves with given that college students are eager to have a sense of belonging. One study targeting to investigate how college students seek to have a sense of belonging revealed that those students who joined Greek organizations drank consistently and more heavily than those who did not join Greek societies (Hensley). Greek societies are known to be prevalent in colleges and often entice students to join them in order to gain a sense of brotherhood or sisterhood. However, many students who agree to join these organizations are exposed to a life of excessive drinking in the disguise of obeying induction rituals. Eventually, the life of excessive drinking becomes part and parcel of these students (Dietz 90).
While it is understandable that many students joining college are eager to identify themselves with particular groups or organizations, it is expected of them to make prudent decisions which would not compromise their studies and their lives in college. Unfortunately, many students have ended up in binge drinking through making inappropriate decisions only to realize when things go terribly wrong. Athletics is also another element of college culture whereby, students take the moment as an excuse for drinking but then end up binge drinking. When students drink excessively during sporting events, they often cause incidences and fall in trouble with authorities. Drunken fans are known for causing chaos during and after games irrespective of the game outcome. Consequently, property may be damaged and both bystanders and the rioters suffer serious injuries (Dietz 91). For students who binge drink because of sporting events, it is just a flimsy excuse and the consequences are often regrettable. Therefore, drinking games, sporting events, traditional drinking events, and Greek organizations are the elements of the culture of drinking on college campuses which make many students involve themselves in binge drinking.
Unfortunately, the notion that alcohol is essential for complete social life on campus is a misconception whose consequences are harmful. Apart from the culture of drinking, college students are influenced into binge drinking by environmental, developmental, and cognitive factors. Regarding the environment, logic dictates that the way someone behaves is more often than not influenced by what is going on in the surrounding. Therefore, when students drink in environments where people have carried alcohol to drink, drinking games are being played, hard alcohol is available in plenty, and the people around are intoxicated; binge drinking can always be predicted. On the other hand a drinking environment where drinking is taking place in a family setting, in the context of dating or where food is available, studies have shown that in such environments, binge drinking is very unlikely (Dietz 92).
Though this suggestion carries weight, it is paramount to reckon that studies that have been done on such environmental implications on the likelihood of binge drinking have been largely correlational. What this means is that though the first kind of environment may contribute to the occurrence of binge drinking, it is also a possibility that those students who indulge in binge drinking are already present in such an environment. Therefore, it would be difficult to determine for instance whether playing of drinking games in such an environment resulted from the presence of binge drinkers or whether students ended up binge drinking because of being in an environment where people played drinking games (Dietz 92). Nevertheless, it leaves no doubt that depending on the kind of environment that students expose themselves to, the likelihood of binge drinking either increases or decreases. Cognitive factors constitute another influential force which has led many college students to develop binge drinking behaviour. The cognitive influences are deeply rooted in misleading beliefs about alcohol, the notion that binge drinking is something that is acceptable, and misinformation about the effects of excessive alcohol consumption.
Regarding the false beliefs or myths that some college students confidently hold on to, there are those who believe that everybody is engaging in binge drinking and thus experiences similar negative consequences (Binge Drinking). This is a misguided thought because a significant percentage of college students do not engage in binge drinking. At the same time, the negative consequences experienced by those who indulge in binge drinking vary and cannot be the same. For instance, according to the direct effects model, binge drinking consequences are determined by both the drinking beliefs and the binge drinking tendencies. Going by this model, students who hold more risky myths such as “everybody is doing it” is more likely to experience harsher consequences. This is because; such students are often lured into thinking that binge drinking cannot make them suffer physical harm.
Consequently, they are more likely to involve themselves in highly risky behaviours after binge drinking and hence experience more severe consequences compared to those who do not hold such a myth (Turrisi, Wiersma and Hughes 343). Another myth among binge drinkers is that binge drinking enhances sexual performance and sex appeal. The fact is that binge drinking predisposes students to risky sexual behavior in which some students may engage in unprotected sex which can lead to the contraction of HIV/AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections (DeSimone 2). In fact binge drinking causes disorientation and those who engage in it are incapacitated from making rational decisions when they are drunk. The belief that their sex appeal is enhanced is misguided. There is also the belief among those who attempt to justify binge drinking that binge drinking is a remedy for stress and that it can enhance social interaction.
On the contrary, binge drinking has been associated with hangovers and even suicidal thoughts. Binge drinking does not enhance social interactions but instead it triggers quarrels, arguments, fights, and incidences of blacking out and vomiting (Wechsler). Others believe that alcohol is not harmful to the body. Again, such a belief is the total opposite of the fact since alcohol consumption has been associated with serious health consequences including alcohol poisoning. The other aspect of cognitive influences is that some students will engage in binge drinking because they perceive the behavior as acceptable in the eyes of their parents and friends. In other words, they find consolation in the idea that binge drink is not bad after all since their parents and friends do not show any disapproval of the behavior (Dietz 94). Developmental factors also help to explain why college students engage in binge drinking. It is worth noting that once students reach this level of maturity, they naturally develop the desire to be regarded as mature adults who can make independent decisions and be responsible for the consequences of their actions.
Therefore, binge drinking behaviour among many college students emanate from this desire to assert their adulthood. Moreover, college students are usually at their prime physically and thus they feel much confident in terms of being able to withstand the impacts of drinking alcohol which may also lead them into drinking excessively (Dietz 91). Though regarded as normal development, the fact that college students are likely to regard as adult hypocrisy anti-drinking messages from people, only puts them at more a vulnerable position. It is also noteworthy that college students are at a stage of critical social and emotional development. For instance, this is a time that they experience a higher level of autonomy since their parents are not around to monitor them. This increased freedom makes many students to make autonomous decisions and often experiment with behaviours that their parents had forbidden them. Moreover, many college students are still continuing with the process of developing their identity and in the process, often indulge in behaviours such as binge drinking in search of more sensational experiences (Hope and Ham 727).
Peer influence is usually at the centre of identity development as students try to fit in new environments with a sense of belonging. Therefore, given that in many colleges students are confronted with a drinking culture, it is not a wonder that some result to binge drinking. However, many students fail to realize that with more freedom comes the need to be more responsible. This is because too much freedom without a sense of self-control or restraint is harmful. In this regard, in as much as certain developmental factors are normal, it cannot be justified as the excuse for engaging in heavy drinking. Binge drinking has a wide range of negative consequences which many college students fail to foresee before plunging themselves into the risky behaviour of binge drinking. Some students do not think that binge drinking can lead to any immediate negative consequence while others lean on the belief that alcohol does not pose harm to the body at all. Such notions are null and void given that bingers are often caught in a wide range of crises such as engaging in unplanned or unprotected sex and getting into trouble with the authorities.
In addition, bingers are more likely to engage in dangerous acts such as driving while drunk than nonbinging drinkers. Drunk driving is a major cause of car accidents and many young people have lost their lives because of it (Nelson and Wechsler 290). Some of the beliefs about the benefits of binge drinking among college students include the idea that by binge drinking, one can get more sexual opportunities. On the contrary, binge drinking only serves to make bingers behave irresponsibly and engage in risky sexual behaviours such as unplanned or unprotected sex. Consequently, some may contract STIs and HIV/AIDS which is a very high price to pay for being irresponsible. Unwanted pregnancy is another possible outcome of binge drinking which adds to the social burden and compromises the studies of the affected student. Contrary to the notion that binge drinking helps to relieve stress, one of its notable consequences has been the increased risk of committing suicide among college students.
Given that 67% of suicide incidences in colleges result from alcohol abuse, the idea that binge drinking causes relaxation is a nonstarter (Wechsler). The health consequences associated with binge drinking are severe. For instance, liver cancer is a fatal illness which can lead to death if not treated early. Another terrible consequence of binge drinking is alcohol poisoning which is a health condition that is not reversible once it occurs. This is a fact which is contrary to what people believe that alcohol poisoning can be reversed by drinking black coffee, walking, sleeping, or taking a cold bath. Time is the only factor that can determine whether the condition will get better or worse. However, due to the high level of alcohol in the blood, there may be no time for the alcohol level to decrease. Instead, the increase in blood alcohol level may continue even after quitting drinking.
Consequently, death can result from interruption of breathing functions or the patient may choke on his/her vomit while unconscious (Do You Understand Binge Drinking?). Binge drinking causes students to be left behind in school work and academic performance of binge drinkers is rendered poor. For instance, due to hangovers and disorientation that comes with excessive drinking, students often fail to complete their assignments or to attend lectures. Consequently, their grades continue to deteriorate and their academic life may become a nightmare (Hensley). Such outcomes are contrary to the notion among young binge drinkers that they have the ability to control the effects of excessive drinking. The fact is that the consequences of binge drinking are stronger than one may try to imagine and many students only regret later when it is too late. The second hand effects of binge drinking are also real and come in the form of insults, sleepless nights, unwanted sex advance, arguments, and assaults (Wechsler).
From this discussion, it leaves no doubt that binge drinking is highly prevalent on college campuses, something that has been contributed by different factors. This is supported by the evidence of many studies showing that despite the national drinking age being increased to 21, binge drinking especially among female students has increased. The consequences of binge drinking are detrimental. This has been witnessed in the form of the escalating cases of road accidents which has cost many lives of college students. Despite the belief among many college students that alcohol consumption enhances social interaction and sex appeal, binge drinking results in quarrels, arguments, and risky sexual behavior. In addition, students who binge drink have often found themselves in trouble with authorities. Poor academic performance due to inability to focus is a big problem among binge drinkers.
Contrary to the belief that alcohol releases stress, statistics have proved otherwise. In fact, incidences of suicide have been on the rise among binge drinkers. The notion among binge drinkers that they are able to control the impacts of alcohol is a nonstarter given the high incidences of rape, assault, and vandalism among college students who binge drink. Regarding the culture of drinking in most colleges, this is something that bingers lean on as an excuse for their behavior. Issues of autonomy and the urge to identify with particular groups though real only imply that individual students must make prudent choices amidst the pressure. It all has to start by correcting the misconceptions and wrong attitudes among college students. Nevertheless, binge drinking remains a nagging issue whose consequences are a threat to many generations.
1. Binge Drinking. n.d. Web 25 Nov 2011 .
This article presents an argument regarding the way binge drinking has been defined by researchers and helps the reader to understand the controversy surrounding what actually amounts to binge drinking. It acknowledges that binge drinking is characterized by repeated intoxication with alcohol which makes a person become careless and abandon his/her responsibilities. In this case, it is useful in this research paper in terms of shedding light on what amounts to binge drinking and the possible consequences. It also alludes to the fact that binge drinking is still prevalent on college campuses. However, it points out that most of the research results about binge drinking on colleges have not reflected the real picture of the situation. 2. DeSimone, Jeff. Binge Drinking and Risky Sex among College Students. 2010. Web 25 Nov 2011 . This article is useful in this research to the extent of addressing one of the main consequences of binge drinking; risky sexual behaviour.
The information in the article is presented in form of a report based on research aimed at finding out the relationship between binge drinking and risky sexual behaviour among college students aged between 18 and 24 years. Its findings that binge drinking increases promiscuity and inability to opt for safer sex such as condom use help to build on the paper’s argument. However, it fails to recognize other numerous negative consequences of binge drinking besides risky sexual behaviour. 3. Dietz, Christine M. “Development of Binge Drinking Behavior in College Students: A Developmental Analysis.” Graduate Journal of Counseling Psychology (2008): 1(1), pp. 86-96. The journal presents valuable information on the factors that influence college students to engage in binge drinking. It extensively addresses the culture of drinking in most colleges which many students lean on as an excuse for intoxicating themselves with alcohol.
In addition, the journal discusses the developmental, cognitive, and environmental factors that play a big influential role in binge drinking. The information in the journal is quite useful in this research paper as it presents a broad picture of what has led to the high prevalence of binge drinking on college campuses. However, it falls short of addressing the details of the consequences of binge drinking. 4. Do You Understand Binge Drinking? 2011. Web 25 Nov 2011 . This is an article that explores in a brief but precise manner, what binge drinking is, the myth surrounding binge drinking, and the main health consequences of binge drinking. It helps to build the argument that contrary to what many college students perceive as being invincible to harm, binge drinking is a monster that induces slow death regardless of age. 5. Hensley, Laura G. “College Student Binge Drinking: Implications for a Constructivist Approach to College Counseling.” Journal of College Counseling (2001): Vol 4. The journal covers the most fundamental elements presented in this research paper in the form of an argument.
It begins by explaining the prevalence of binge drinking and the factors causing this trend such as students joining Greek societies and succumbing to peer pressure. It then highlights the behavioural, health, and academic negative consequences that result from binge drinking. Though the information is useful in building an argument, the journal presents it in form of a report or literature review. 6. Hope, Debra A and Lindsay S Ham. “College students and problematic drinking: A review of the literature.” Clinical Psychology Review (2003): Vol 23, pp. 719-759. This journal review explores the problem of excessive drinking among college students by citing the findings of a number of studies that have been conducted in the past. It acknowledges the importance of considering frequency and quantity when defining binge drinking. Besides highlighting the consequences of binge drinking, it also explores other aspects such as gender difference in the likelihood of excessive drinking.
Nevertheless, it contributes to the research paper since it also addresses factors such as sensation seeking, personality and environmental factors, and cognitive processes as influencing college students to engage in binge drinking. 7. Krock, Becca. Higher drinking age lowers binge drinking for all except college students. 2009. Web 25 Nov 2011 . The article presents important findings from a recent study which revealed that though the national drinking age was set at 21 and has remained so since 1984, the effects on the level of binge drinking among college students have not been significant. However, the article points out that a major decline in the prevalence of binge drinking among teenagers has been noted. The article is relevant to the research paper since it helps the reader to see that altering the drinking age is not enough to curb the issue at hand.
The main idea in the article is that since most college students are already 21 years and above, it’s legal for them to drink and the situation is exacerbated by other factors. 8. Nelson, Toben F and Henry Wechsler. “Binge Drinking and the American College Student: What’s Five Drink?” Psychology of Addictive Behaviours (2001): 15(4), pp. 287-291. The journal article discusses the importance of the clinical five/four measure of binge drinking in evaluating its various consequences. By citing findings about the consequences of binge drinking among college students, the article helps to build the argument presented in this paper. The article notes that there is a huge difference in the severity of binge-drinking consequences between bingers and non-bingers. However, the article does not address the fundamental factors that influence students to engage in binge drinking.
9. Turrisi, Rob, Kimberly A Wiersma and Kelli K Hughes. “Binge-Drinking-Related Consequences in College Students: Role of Drinking Beliefs and Mother-Teen Communications.” Psychology of Addictive Behaviors (2000): 14(4), 342-355. The information presented in this journal article is highly relevant to the argument since it not only focuses on the false beliefs about alcohol among college students but also the relationship between these beliefs and the consequences. For instance, the article asserts the findings that a direct relationship exists between drinking beliefs and binge-drinking consequences. However, there is no direct relationship between drinking beliefs and consequences when it comes to health matters and physical risk. Overall, the article helps the reader to understand the phenomenon of binge drinking in terms of why students engage in it and the difference in the nature of consequences expected by bingers and the actual consequences.
10. Wechsler, Henry. Binge Drinking on America’s College Campuses. 2009. Web 25 Nov 2011 . In this article, the question of binge drinking is discussed in light of its prevalence which according to the article has remained relatively steady. At the same time, the article notes that more dangerous forms of binge drinking have been on the rise. The far-reaching consequences of binge drinking including alcohol poisoning, poor academic performance, vandalism of property, and physical harm have been highlighted. It helps to underscore the fact that by believing that they are able to control the effects of alcohol, many college students have only predisposed themselves to harm.