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College Alcohol Addiction Treatment

Alcohol and binge drinking are common vices among today’s college students. Why do young adults drink and where can they go for alcohol addiction treatment?

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College Students and Alcohol Abuse

On college campuses across the US, alcohol abuse is rampant among young adults. While the purpose of college is to study and get employable degrees, many students get sidetracked by drugs and alcohol. Why do so many college students drink?

  • Peer pressure – Young adults are highly impressionable. If they see their peers drink, they’re more likely to drink themselves. Some students feel left out when they don’t participate in activities like binge drinking.
  • Family – Alcohol abuse is often learned at home. People are more likely to drink if they have parents who drink in large quantities.
  • Free access – Most college students live on budgets. With little spending money, they’re eager to jump at anything free. At college parties, alcohol is often served free of charge.
  • Stress – Some college students drink to cope with stress related to studies and tests. Alcohol has a mellowing effect, which eases the anxiety many young people struggle with regarding things like their personal image (what others think of them) and athletic or academic performance.

College alcohol use is especially dangerous when illicit drugs are involved. The effects of certain drugs (downers, stimulants, hallucinogens) can multiply when mixed with alcohol.

How Many College Students Drink?

Roughly four-fifths of college students (80%) drink to some degree. According to a 2019 study by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, roughly 9% of college students qualify as having alcohol use disorder (AUD).

Binge Drinking on College Campuses

One of the biggest activities involving alcohol on college campuses is binge drinking, where the person downs multiple drinks in two hours. For males, the limit is five drinks in 120 minutes. For women, the limit is four. Beyond that, it’s binge drinking, which can cause alcohol poisoning.

Young adults engage in binge drinking for three reasons:

  • To show off – Young people, especially males, often binge drink to prove to others just how tough or “badass” they are. In some cases, young men will have binge drinking contests to see who can handle the most.
  • Fear of getting caught – At college parties where alcohol is served, students often drink the “evidence” as fast as they can before campus police come in to bust things up. Even if things are under wraps and authorities aren’t alerted, a lot of students still fear getting caught and drink as much as they can, as fast as they can.
  • Lack of experience – People with little or no prior experience with alcohol typically don’t know how to drink responsibly. Unlike certain European countries, where kids are taught at home how to drink in moderation, American kids simply sneak drinks until they’re 21 and learn the hard way.

Even without binging, college drinking is problematic because alcohol slows breathing, which can rob the mind of oxygen. In young, developing bodies, this can cause permanent brain damage.

For young women, drinking is even more dangerous because the female body has less water and more fat than the male body. This makes it more difficult for women to process alcohol. Women should never consume more than half the amount of alcohol that their male friends drink on a given night. (Preferably, 1-1.5 glasses at most).

Drug Abuse and Binge Drinking

College students put themselves in grave danger when they mix binge drinking with drugs. At parties on college campuses, students often over-drink in combination with hard drugs. In some cases, students die from overdoses on their first binge. Drugs that make drinking even more dangerous include:

  • Cocaine – A stimulant that causes unnatural energy and restlessness. Cocaine contradicts the depressing effects of alcohol. This tricks drunken users into thinking they haven’t gotten their “buzz” from alcohol. Cocaine causes users to drink harder.
  • Heroin – A downer that slows breathing and heart rates. When combined with the downer effects of alcohol, heroin can slow the heart to a stop.
  • LSD – A hallucinogen that causes users to hear and see things that aren’t there. Alcohol lowers inhibition and makes people emotional, manic, shameless and belligerent. When combined, these effects can make a user reckless.

Drug addiction is a huge problem on American college campuses. College drinking exacerbates the problem.

Side Effects of Alcohol and Drug Abuse on College Students

The effects of alcohol abuse on college students — even worse when combined with drug abuse — include:

  • Slurred speech – Alcohol renders people incoherent. Drunkenness muddles thoughts, memory, judgment and mental resourcefulness.
  • Lack of coordination – When a person’s blood alcohol concentration exceeds 0.08%, it’s illegal to operate a motor vehicle. Intoxicated people lack the responsiveness, optimal vision or sense of judgment to drive safely.
  • Slowed breath – Alcohol makes people breathe slower. This can have a cumulative effect on the brains of adults with AUD. In young people, the effects are more dangerous because the brain is still developing.
  • Emotional extremes – When under the influence, people are less restrained in their emotions. Angry people get belligerent; emotional people get mawkish and teary; happy people get manic.
  • Inhibition – People lose their better sense of judgment while under the influence. For some, this leads to regretful actions.

The negative consequences of alcohol abuse are more dangerous in cases of long-term AUD. Full-time college students who drink and binge-drink regularly risk later dangers like heart disease, liver damage and stroke.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment for College Students

College students who struggle with alcohol addiction have numerous treatment options. American addiction rehab centers now promote recovery programs geared to young people. In most cases, rehab involves the following:

  • Detox – This begins when the college student stops drinking and enters a rehab facility. On the second and third days out from the last drink, cravings and withdrawal symptoms peak. To get through this phase and on to recovery, students should always do rehab under 24/7 supervision at a rehab center.
  • Residential treatment – Involves 30-90 days at an alcohol addiction treatment center, where students get meals, rooms and private counseling. Daily activities include alcohol education, wellness activities, behavioral health therapy and group meetings.
  • Outpatient treatment – Involves the same activities as residential treatment and lasts 1-3 months. The difference is that students live at home and attend treatment during the day. Outpatient treatment schedules range from full-time (20-40 hours per week, hard cases) to part-time (9-19 hours, mild cases).
  • Family therapy – Family meetings are important for most students who struggle with alcohol addiction. Parents often lack proper communication strategies with their teens when the topic concerns drugs and alcohol. Today’s treatment centers conduct counseling sessions between patients and family members.

Alcohol treatment is just a phone call away for anyone who seeks sobriety. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has put together CollegeAIM (College Alcohol Intervention Matrix), an information resource about alcohol intervention programs in the US.

Get Help: Alcohol and Substance Abuse Treatment Options

Get Help Today

Don't go through the process of recovery alone. There are people who can help you with the struggle you're facing. Get in touch with one today.

Make a Call

College students have bright futures ahead of themselves as long as they stay off drugs and alcohol. For those in need of substance abuse treatment, there are rehab centers throughout the US with programs specially geared for the needs of young adults. Today’s treatment centers promote holistic treatment in accordance with the Mental Health Services Administration.

If you know a college student with a drinking problem, get that person the help he/she needs today. Your call could save that person’s future.

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