How Does Alcohol Misuse Differ On Campus Than At Home?
The consequences of alcohol misuse to a person and their family, friends, and acquaintances are undeniable, but how do the circumstances of alcohol misuse differ in the campus environment?
Just as it affects the rest of the family when someone at home drinks, the consequences of alcohol misuse extend beyond that of the person doing the drinking. It also affects non-drinking students, friends and faculty.
The Campus Environment Is A Whole New World
For new students, the sudden freedom of campus life compared to the more structured home setting, offer many opportunities to easily give into temptations. Excessive partying, skipping class, drinking, and drug use are just some of the behaviors a new student might participate in without the parental oversight they had before.
Incidents of alcohol misuse are particularly strong in freshmen, as they are thrust into a lifestyle they’ve most likely not dealt with before. Statistics show that over the years, misuse of alcohol generally declines over a student’s attendance at a school. Alcohol misuse, while it exists throughout campus life, is most prevalent in the earlier years when a student is getting used to their new lifestyle.
The more involved students are in campus life, the higher the chance for alcohol misuse. Students living in fraternities, sororities, and participating in athletics have the highest instances of alcohol misuse. The lowest occurrence of alcohol misuse happens with students who commute from home.
The campus environment is often separated from the general community that surrounds it. It is somewhat uniquely isolated, even in the middle of a city or town. As a result, it isn’t touched by community programs as much. The campus becomes something of a world in of itself, subject to its own rules, mores, and lifestyle.
The Campus Life Can Actually Foster Alcohol Misuse
As a new student becomes familiar to this new world of campus life, they will encounter situations that can make abusing alcohol, tempting. The social atmosphere of a college campus can result in academics taking the back seat. It’s much more “fun” to attend an all-night party instead of studying for a midterm exam. The stresses of a study workload generally heavier than they are previously used to, can make the relaxing effect of drinking desirable. An attitude of poor judgement such as, “I’ll study in the morning, I’m hanging with the gang tonight” can become easier.
Alcohol is usually more accessible on campus than it was in the family home, particularly when living in shared spaces like dormitories and fraternity/sorority houses. It is easier to drink more often and in higher quantities because students can generally buy, store, and serve themselves. They’re not beholden to the costs, travel requirements, and time constraints of drinking at bars and other establishments. It’s cheaper, so more affordable, often purchased with money sent by family meant to be applied toward food, books, and other needs. Additionally, drinking at home makes one less susceptible to the hazard of getting drugged by someone slipping something into unmonitored drinks.
Binge Drinking Is A Prevalent And Dangerous Part Of Campus Social Life
The campus, with its lose restrictions, pressure from other students, and heavy drinking and partying propaganda, can facilitate and even encourage the act of binge drinking. Binge drinking is the consumption of large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time resulting in fast and strong intoxication. It is a particularly prevalent and unfortunate form of alcohol misuse exhibited on the campus scene. In addition to the same dangers associated with alcohol misuse in general, it has its own characteristic problems such as:
- Poor academic performance from missing classes
- Sudden, harmful behavior
- Quickly accumulating internal physical damage
Sudden ingestion of large amounts of alcohol wreaks havoc on the body and mind. Judgment is quickly impaired and it can make one more susceptible to alcohol poisoning, driving drunk, aggression, and other negative impulses. Binge drinking can be cumulative and the more one takes part in it, the more alcohol misuse can lead into full addiction.
Collateral Damage Of Campus Alcohol Misuse
The student who misuses alcohol doesn’t do disservice only to themselves. The results of their behavior can affect fellow students, faculty, family, and members of the surrounding community. Studies by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism show that over 80 percent of students on campus use alcohol. The following findings are just some examples of and numbers associated with student alcohol misuse annually:
- Almost 600,000 people injured
- Over 1,800 students die as a result of it, whether from car accidents, physical damage or misadventure
- Almost 700,000 victims of non-sexual assault such as beatings
- Almost 100,000 students sexually assaulted
These numbers don’t include other negative ramifications from student alcohol misuse, such as property damage.
Hazing: Campus Initiations Are Breeding Grounds For Alcohol Misuse
Hazing, the practice of initiating students into groups, teams, or organizations, goes back as far as the 1800’s. It involves activities designed to test a student’s “worthiness” of becoming a member. The activity is supposed to encourage camaraderie and feelings of acceptance, but in most cases, all it does is humiliate and/or endanger the inductee and has even resulted in death.
Hazing is usually most prevalent in a student’s initial years, when they are “pledging” to fraternities or sororities, or joining athletic teams, groups, and even being inducted into honor societies and academic clubs. Methods passed off as harmless or “just for fun” are often sadistic and dangerous. Every group that was studied involved drinking of some kind in their “tests.”
An exhaustive study conducted by professors at the University of Maine between 2005 and 2007 resulted in alarming information:
- Over half of students involved in groups, clubs or teams experienced hazing of some kind
- Almost half went through hazing prior to college
- Alcohol consumption is required in some way with every group
- Tasks required of inductees are sometimes illegal
- Non-students such as coaches, advisors, fellow students, and alumni are frequently aware of the hazing and methods being used
Unfortunately, hazing has become something of an “expected” part of campus life. Students generally do not report hazing, even when abusive, dangerous, or illegal methods are practiced. They do not report it to school officials.
Even where administration is aware of hazing on campus, prevention usually doesn’t go beyond a statement that it is not permitted. Intolerance mandates are not usually enforced. This results in students being unwilling or afraid to report incidents, even when aware of someone being injured, assaulted, or illegal activity taking place.
Awareness Of And Attempts At Dealing With Alcohol Misuse
It is difficult for students, particularly freshmen, to resist the peer pressure associated with drinking on campus. Often they are coming from a home environment where there were adults who called the shots and guided their actions. Young adults who have been raised being educated about alcohol and its effects, generally fare better than those who were not. But a new student is easily influenced by older, more established upperclassmen. Even when a new student is aware of the negative consequences of drinking, they may not have the courage to resist something that is promoted almost as necessary to continued education life. They may feel that resistance is simply futile, and give in when they’d rather not.
The pressure to fit in on campus can be as strong as, or even more intense than when they were high school students. They’re supposed to be grown-up now. They choose their own direction, their own classes, etc. They don’t want to be seen as weak or lame by turning down a bottle handed to them in the dorm, opting to stay home and study rather than go to a party, or decline to participate a hazing ritual required to join a fraternity or sorority.
Once a student gives up the fight and becomes involved in campus alcohol misuse, they rarely recognize they have a problem. Even fewer choose to seek help.
With Help, Campus Life Doesn’t Have To Involve Alcohol Misuse
Whether one is just entering campus life or has been on campus for a time, avoiding the dangers of alcohol misuse starts with awareness. You need to know what’s in store as you transition to a very different environment with temptations, pressures, and practices that can be difficult to deal with on your own. AlcoholTreatment.net can help you prepare for a campus experience that will be rewarding and positive, and can also help if drinking becomes a problem. Contact us to find out how.