For many people, the college experience is a transformative time in life. It introduces them to new thoughts and concepts, challenges them to expand their thinking, allows them to experience more freedom, and creates a whole new level of social connectivity.
While these times can be immensely important for development and maturation, they also open the door to temptation to excessive substance use.
That’s why acknowledging the power of addiction and how it does or can impact daily life is vital before entering an environment like college.
With this understanding, a person is better prepared to:
- Face potential alcohol use and drug abuse they may encounter or be pressured into
- Make contingency plans to avoid dangerous behavioral patterns, like binge drinking and other methods of excessive alcohol consumption
College Years & Alcohol Abuse and Addiction
Studies have shown that a stunning number of full-time college students will try alcohol for the very first time in their lives when they arrive on campus.
On an average day, over 2,000 new college freshmen will consume their very first drink. What starts out as recreational consumption can quickly escalate, opening the door to an alcohol use disorder and potentially lead to rehabilitation to address the addiction that has taken root.
Many people don’t understand that they risk alcohol addiction even before their college years begin. Then they start using alcohol excessively, creating a dangerous pattern within their brain and leading them toward a lifetime of struggling with alcohol use. (1)
What Really Causes Alcohol Abuse and Addiction in College Students?
When it comes to alcohol use among college students, the real problems often get lost and neglected. It’s been well known for decades that college students represent a population cohort that widely abuses alcohol. Why? A major factor is that stress caused by real-life issues pushes some college students to drink to manage their feelings and try to fit into a new social environment.
The problem is that drinking for these reasons can last far past college days, bringing with it a variety of personal complications that can last a lifetime.
Some of the influencing factors behind drinking in college can also include:
- A greater amount of personal free time – It’s common for college students to start drinking simply because many of them, especially those who are living away from home, now have large amounts of unstructured free time and less supervision. This newfound freedom can cause them to experiment with substances that were previously forbidden, such as alcohol.
- Social gatherings driven by alcohol consumption – It’s not uncommon for gatherings or events organized by college students to have alcohol openly available to all who attend, even those below the legal drinking age. Students often feel pressured to drink if they want to fit in with their new peers. This can drive someone to develop unhealthy habits simply to fit into their new social surroundings.
- Greater stress that comes with greater responsibility – Transitioning into a college environment is full of stressors. From difficult classes to increased workloads, higher expectations from professors and less parental oversight, managing increased freedom can become overwhelming very quickly. To manage this stress, it’s very common for college students to begin drinking to decrease their anxiety and manage the new emotions they’re facing.
- Increased access to alcohol – College students who live on campus are at high risk of alcohol abuse because of the alcohol-centric culture that pervades some college campuses. This holds true for schools with fraternities and sororities and schools where sports are a large part of the college’s culture.
Research has shown that around 20% of college students meet the medical criteria for having a diagnosable alcohol use disorder. While not all college students who binge drink end up becoming alcoholics, they’re only a step or two away from developing a diagnosable alcohol use disorder. (3)
Alcohol Abuse and Addiction Treatment for College Students
While it can be hard to confront alcohol addiction, facing those fears and asking for desperately needed help is essential to overcoming the disease. Sometimes peer pressure can get in the way. Other times, it’s the consequences of the addiction that prevents some people from asking for guidance to address their addictive behaviors.
Admitting that a problem actually exists and demonstrating readiness to regain control is the first step toward a healthy existence. At Ranch Creek Recovery, we’re here to help those who want our support to navigate the process of rehabilitation to find that sense of purpose once again.
Life-Changing, Holistic Drug & Alcohol Addiction Treatment
Anyone living with an alcohol addiction who wants to regain control over their entire life must believe that life can begin again. It’s our firm belief at Ranch Creek Recovery that people struggling with an alcohol addiction can recover from their disease and rebuild abstinent, productive lives.
If you’re addicted to alcohol or drugs, or have a loved one in the grips of an addiction, there is help.
We address addiction recovery and relapse prevention head on through our non-12-step, individualized, holistic addiction treatment programs.
Our team of treatment experts will work one-on-one with you to create a custom treatment and recovery plan that will help you feel confident and ready to enter your new, sober life.
Contact us today to learn how we treat alcohol addiction and to get your questions answered.
1) Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. A DAY IN THE LIFE OF COLLEGE STUDENTS AGED 18 TO 22: SUBSTANCE USE FACTS. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/report_2361/ShortReport-2361.html.
2) National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. Fall Semester — A Time for Parents to Discuss the Risks of College Drinking. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/time-for-parents-Discuss-risks-college-drinking.
3) National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. College Drinking. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/publications/brochures-and-fact-sheets/college-drinking.
4) University of New Hampshire. The Effects of Alcohol Use on Academic Performance Among College Students. Accessed June 28, 2021. https://scholars.unh.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1087&context=perspectives.