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20% college students may suffer from alcohol use disorder: Study

Binge drinking usually refers to deliberate consumption of huge quantity of alcohol in a single session with the objective of getting high. Lately, heavy drinking has significantly gone up in America with one in six adults binge drinking about four times a month, says a 2015 report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

High-risk drinking habits among college students poses dangers which can be either minor or major. Some of the problems can include certain minor behavioral changes that interfere with one’s studies or some major changes such as criminal behavior and serious acts of violence.

‘Binge drinking, a rite of passage for college students’

A 2016 study by the University of Alabama at Birmingham revealed that nearly 20 percent of college students may suffer an alcohol use disorder, with one in four students faring badly in studies and other related activities. Alcohol use disorder is known for causing accidents. Nearly 1,825 college students aged 18–24 have been estimated to die each year from alcohol-related injuries, primarily motor vehicle collisions.

According to lead author Peter Hendricks, Ph.D., associate professor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham School of Public Health Department of Health Behavior, “Alcohol abuse, binge drinking in particular, is thought to be a rite of passage for college students; but in reality it’s a very serious health epidemic in the United States. It is important to understand what alcohol is, why it’s problematic, and what a person can do to minimize the risk should they choose to drink.”

While moderate drinking is defined as not more than one drink per day for women and maximum two drinks a day for men, binge drinking refers to men consuming five or more drinks and women consuming four or more in about two hours. Drinking large amount of alcohol can harm the body, relationships and social life of drinkers and at times can cause alcohol poisoning that can be fatal.

“Alcohol leads to impulsive decisions and can be addictive. Even though it’s legal for those 21 years of age and older, college students should be aware of the dangers of drinking alcohol,” said Hendricks.

Harmful impacts of binging

Heavy drinking contributes to a large number of alcohol-related deaths. One of the most serious long-term risks of binge drinking is that it can lead to physical and psychological dependence on alcohol. According to the CDC’s March 2016 report, binge drinking is the number one reason for accidental injuries, including falls, motor vehicle crashes, burns and drowning.

Too much of alcohol can affect the central nervous system, increasing the risk of brain damage and death. Some of the long-term risks of binge drinking include:

  • Feeling depressed
  • Missing work
  • Frequently getting into fights and arguments
  • Suffering accidents and falls
  • Depression and neurological damage

“Alcohol is ingrained in our culture, and binge drinking is perceived as a lighthearted, fun and humorous rite of passage among college students. It’s crucial to communicate the dire risks of binge drinking and challenge the notion that alcohol use is a normal and harmless part of the college experience,” said Hendricks.

Path to recovery

A 2015 report by the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (NCADD) revealed that excessive alcohol use is responsible for 88,000 deaths in the U.S. annually. Large quantities of alcohol are associated with numerous health problems, chronic diseases, neurological impairments and social problems. Today, children and teens are experimenting with alcohol more than ever before, which is coming in the way of proper development of their brain and bodies. While a few medications have been shown to be effective in the treatment of alcohol addiction, personal dedication and the use of various behavioral therapies aid the overall treatment procedure.

Like other deadly diseases, drinking can also get out of control gradually. That’s why it’s important to reconsider your drinking habits. If you or your loved one needs treatment for addiction, it is time to seek help. You may reach out to the 247 Recovery Helpline to get the expert guidance in recovery. Call our helpline number at 855-441-4405 or chat online for further information.

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