A new study found students who doubt their abilities to handle bad moods or bad situations are more prone to drinking. This is just the latest in a number of alcohol studies coming out in relation to college students. College students are always easy targets for these surveys, since many students are finally away from their mother’s nest for the first time and feel free to go out more times than Friday and Saturday nights.
What is obvious is there are as many reasons or excuses to drink as there are drinks themselves. People drink to relax, have fun, deal with stress, sleep, get away from problems, cope, and alleviate stress, just to name a few. What students should be aware of is if they are drinking for more than relaxation and fun, they could very well have a problem. In essence if students are drinking to cope with the everyday problems of academe, they have more problems than low grades or job market stress. On the other hand, just because someone drinks more than one glass of wine for dinner doesn’t make that person a problem drinker. If everyone who drank at Penn State went to an alcohol counselor, the lines would dwarf those apparent for this year’s Penn State-Michigan game.
What students (as well as everyone else who drinks) need to realize is that drinking is not a solution to any kind of problem. Alcohol, like caffeine, nicotine and heroin, is a drug. Beverage companies can paint them any color they want, but nothing is going to take away that fact.
Like any drug, alcohol is potentially addictive. The best test is to figure out whether you use the drug, or the drug is using you. As the summer is in its midst, more students will be inclined to drink after the stress of finals and even graduation. Don’t let the summer become an excuse to drink more heavily than other times.
Despite increasing publicity about the problems caused by student drinking, a new survey suggests that the number of college-age drinkers has been steadily falling for the past twenty years. Recent studies have found connections between drinking and the prevalence of date rapes, hazing, and property damage on campuses. (Higher Education Research Institute, The American Freshman: National Norms for Fall 1994, University of California, Los Angeles; William Celis 3d, “Tradition on the Wane: College Drinking,” New York Times, Feb. 5, 1995, p. 1). This study, by the Higher Education Research Institute at the University of California at Los Angeles, suggests that problem drinking may be isolated to a few students and that overall attitudes about alcohol are changing, at least among college freshmen.
In 1994, the Institute surveyed 333,703 freshmen from 670 four-year colleges and universities as part of their annual poll of first-year students. In 1994, the number of first-year students who reported drinking beer occasionally or frequently in the past year reached its lowest point ever — 53.2% (compared to 54.4% in 1993 and 75.2% in 1981). The percentage of freshmen that said they had drunk wine or hard liquor also fell to 52.5% from 66.7% in 1987 when the question was first asked as a part of the survey.
Students interviewed for The New York Times article about the survey attributed the decrease in drinking to changing attitudes. According to one New York University student, on college campuses there “is just an increased awareness that drinking can become something hazardous not only to your health, but your academic life, your studies, your relationships.”