The Effects of Alcohol Consumption on College StudentsOn a weekly basis, college students consume more alcohol to fit in with their peers. Prior research has shown how alcohol consumption can lead to negative effects. Typically, college students ignore the negative effects of consuming alcohol, in order to have a good time. College students are the point in their life where they are searching for new and exciting ways to fit in and have fun amongst peers.
Alcohol consumption among college student is an important community and public health concern. Drinking appears to be a normal part of the college experience and is related with high-risk behavior, such as driving under the influence of alcohol and risky sexual behavior and fights (Ham & Hope, 2003; Murphy, McDevitt-Murphy, & Barnett, 2005; Park, 2004). The negative consequences of these behaviors are legal sanctions, poor academic performance, injuries, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy.Nicole Gentile, Erika Librizzi, and Margaret Martinetti examined that college students ages 18-22 consume more alcohol that non-college attendees in the same age rang and thus, are at increased risk for demonstrating early signs of alcohol abuse and dependence during their college years (Johnston, O’ Malley, & Bachman, 2003). National survey indicates that, about 40% of U.S.
college students report at most one episode of heavy drinking during a 2-week period and about 40% of students are considered binge drinkers. Alcohol-related accidents represent the leading cause of death in young adults. College drinking behaviors also affect and endanger other students. About 87% of college students claim that they have experienced some “second-hand effects” of heavy drinking, such as unwanted sexual advances, interrupted schoolwork and sleep, and being insulted and humiliated (DeJong & Langford, 2002: Ham & Hope, 2003). Joanna Buscemi, Matthew Martens, James Murphy, Ali Yurasek and Ashley Smith examined that when young adults transition from high school to college they are more likely to interact and engage in health compromising activities such as drug, alcohol and risky sexual behavior. Currently, there are over 9 million college students in the United States, and approximately 45% of these students report engaging in heavy episodic drinking at least once in the preceding 2 weeks. In 2001, college drinking was associated with approximately 600,00 injuries, almost 500,00 instances of unprotected sex, 97,000 sexual assaults, 700,000 physical assaults, and over 1,700 deaths.
In 2005, college drinking was associated with approximately 1,825 alcohol-related injury deaths (Buscemi, Martens, Murphy, Yurasek & Smith, 2011).Lori A. J. Scott-Sheldon, Kate B. Carey & Michael P.
Carey examined how college years offer an opportunity for new experiences, personal freedom, and identity development. This stage is also noted for the emergence of unacceptable behaviors that places college students at risk for health problems. In this study they examined alcohol and drug use, smoking, sexual behaviors, eating, physical activity, and sleeping, in 1,595 college students (n = 265 Greek members, n = 1, 330 non-college members). Results indicated that Greek members engaged in more risky health behaviors such as alcohol use, smoking and sex under the influence of alcohol than non-Greek members.
Greek and non-Greek member did not contrast in condom use, unprotected sex, eating, and physical activity behaviors. Lizabeth Crawford and Katherine Novak examined that given the negative consequences associated with the abuse of alcohol on college campuses, many institutions now have specific policies designed to reduce students’ levels of alcohol consumption (Wechster, Kelley, Weitzman, Giovanni ; Sebring, 2002). Despite this, the rate of heavy, or binge drinking, has remained relatively stable at around 44%. Moreover, both the percentage of frequent binge drinkers and drinkers who report consuming alcohol for the explicit purpose of becoming intoxicated have increased since the early 1990s (Wechsler, Lee, Kuo, Sebring, Nelson ; Lee, 2002). Although students drink for a variety of reasons (Baer, 2002), peer pressure plays an important role in maintaining these patterns. Peer pressure has three forms: explicit offers of alcohol, role modeling, and social norms (Borsari ; Carey, 2001).Women may report greater discrepancies between how much they think others are drinking and their own levels of alcohol consumption because they use men as a frame of reference when responding to questions about the typical student’s drinking habits (Borsari & Carey, 2003; Korcuska & Thombs, 2003;Lewis & Neighbors, 2004).
Alternatively, the gender difference in other self- gap scores may reflect a greater susceptibility to peer pressure among males. In their longitudinal analysis of other-self discrepancies in perceived comfort with campus drinking practices, Prentice and Miller (1993) found that males were more likely than females to adopt attitudes toward alcohol use that matched what they believed to be normative. Women are also more likely than their male counterparts to state that they would be able to resist situational pressures conducive to drinking in a variety of hypothetical situations (Shore et al.
, 1983). Presumably this is due to the fact that men experience more pressure from others to drink. Students themselves acknowledge this gender difference.
They also believe that women are more inclined to suffer negative consequences from excessive drinking (e.g., rape or sexual assault), which may make it easier for females to limit their levels of alcohol consumption, even when they regard doing so as deviant (Suls & Green, 2003).College undergraduates who fear alcohol’s negative effects may find it easier to resist peer pressure.
Many students indicate that they consciously minimize their drinking in order to avoid the risks associated with alcohol intoxication, even on campuses where heavy drinking is common. Frequently given rationales for not drinking to excess include concerns about health, safety and mental alertness; the expense of alcohol (Slicker, 2001); and patterns of familial socialization (Greenfield, Guydish ; Temple, 1989).Jim Orford, Mya Krishnan, Melanie Balaam, Meri Everitt and Kathryn Van Der Graaf examined that heavy drinkers scored higher than light drinkers on measures of tension reduction, sexual enhancement and dependency drinking expectancies. The top three reported benefits of drinking were social life, fun/humor, and self-confidence.
Heavy drinkers perceived a lot of drawbacks to their finances as a result of drinking, whereas for light drinkers the main drawbacks concerned physical wellbeing. Heavy drinkers were found to interact with a heavier drinking social network, receive more encouragement to drink from important people in their lives and to participate in more heavy drinking activities than light drinkers. A tentative model was developed from the qualitative study suggesting that social factors areimportant influences in the maintenance of heavy student drinking, in particular subtle forms of ‘peer pressure’, and increased self-confidence.
Motivational factors, particularly the expectation of increased self-confidence, play an important role in the maintenance of heavy student drinking, but social factors are probably equally significant. The levels and patterns of heavy drinking found in the present sample are worrying and the findings have implications for attempts to reduce alcohol consumption by university students.