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College Drinking and Alcohol Addiction

Updated on February 4, 2014

College Drinking Prblems and Alcohol Addiction

Alcoholism, also known as alcohol addiction, is one of the most serious social problems among college students. What often starts out as a gesture of friendship and a form of social bonding with a group of friends can gradually get turned into a full blown problem that may eventually need a visit to an alcohol rehab clinic to remedy the problem. But a lot of students drink and party, you say, so what’s the big deal ? Well I am not going to lecture or moralize. I know a lot of young people get exposed to the party life in college and because they are often away from home for the first time things can get a little out of hand.

First off risk-taking behavior in young people is fairly common. It is normal to some degree for college students to want to challenge themselves and see what they can do as they assert their autonomy on the way to adulthood. Most students who drink in college don’t believe they will ever need to enter alcohol rehab. They believe that they have their drinking under control and that when college is over they will be fine. And many college students will reduce their use of alcohol when their college ends.

But often alcohol addiction begins while many people are college students. What begins as the party life gradually becomes a bigger problem. What began as a form of socially acceptable interaction starts to become a problem in many ways for the young drinker. At first college drinking is a social experience but over time it somehow morphs from harmless college drinking into serious alcohol addiction.

Students with an alcohol addiction are often in denial

College students with an alcohol addiction can be in very serious denial and often find ways rationalize their alcohol addiction as just being social drinking. But when they start to drink in more and more situations it begins to become clear to those around them that they may be more than social drinkers. From a young age most people are exposed to advertising that equates drinking with a life of fun and excitement. Alcohol is also associated with major league sports and the athlete culture. Yet the reality for people with alcohol addictions slowly becomes anything but fun and exciting.

College students can have their alcohol addiction problem go unnoticed for a long period of time. Because they are often surrounded by other social drinkers, the fact that drinking may be a problem for these students tends to go under the radar. When drinking alcohol is coupled with other behavior problems, the behavior problems are often seen more as a result of the person’s personality than as a product of alcohol addiction.

The signs of alcohol addiction often go unnoticed on college campuses.

Early on the warning signs of possible problem drinking may be difficult to spot and many college students are unaware of the damage they are doing to themselves as their drinking becomes more and more of an issue. Because these students are frequently drinking with acquaintances and new friends, and because family are often out of the picture, there is often no one in their immediate environment there for these students that their drinking has become a problem and may in fact have become a serious addiction.

It is also often very difficult to convince young people that they have a drinking problem. They see their drinking behavior as normal and rarely notice when their own drinking patterns have become problematic. Student drinkers see other students drinking and partying and in many cases drinking behaviours such as binge drinking and drinking to excess seem normal to them.

Signs of Alcohol addiction for college students

Students at risk for developing and alcohol addiction will start to show certain signs.Here are some of the signs that student social drinking may have become an alcohol addiction.

1. If drinking alcohol has started to affect your grades and your ability to study you may have an alcohol addiction problem. If you can't stop drinking long enough to study it is a problem. If your level of motivation for doing well in school seems to have continually dropped there is a good chance that it could be related to your drinking behavior.

2. If drinking alcohol has begun to affect your ability to maintain relationships with a girlfriend or boyfriend and drinking behavior has often been a cause of concern for significant others, the problem might be related to alcohol addiction. When people around you want you to stop drinking it is a definite warning sign.

3. If you wake up in the morning craving a drink, you want to drink during the day when others aren’t, or you drink on your own it is likely a sign of alcohol addiction. Many students with alcohol addictions try to find others to drink with them at times when most other students aren’t drinking as a way of masking their drinking problem. Their rationale is that if they are doing it with someone else it is just social drinking and therefore not a problem.

4. College students with alcohol addiction problems are more likely to end up having problems with campus security, the police and other people in positions of authority. They are also more likely to end up in the hospital for injuries related to drinking or from alcohol poisoning itself.

5. Students with alcohol addiction problems will often have engaged in binge drinking. Binge drinking is even more of a problem when it has led to missing classes or other important events in their lives. Being unable to stop drinking and get back to class is another warning sign. Some students who engage in binge drinking seemingly place alcohol consumption above other priorities.

6. Students with alcohol addiction issues are more likely to seem depressed and experience negative effect. Their hygiene often tends to become less and less important and other healthful habits like proper diet and exercise tend to lose importance. However, they don't lose enough interest in alcohol to stop drinking.

7. Students with alcohol addiction problems sometimes begin to change their belief systems in radical ways that sometimes make little sense to those around them. Gaps in memory or alcohol induced psychoses can start to affect their thinking patterns, which in turn affects school work.

8. Students with an alcohol addiction will be much more likely to say they need a drink to deal with unwanted emotions or other forms of stress in their lives. They are more likely to deal with difficult issues by self-medicating with alcohol. When asked to find other ways to handle their problems they are often unable to stop drinking.

9. Students with an alcohol addiction problem are more likely to be withdrawn and anti-social when they aren’t drinking. However, they seem to be much more social when drinking and often rely on alcohol to get them through social situations.

10. Lastly students with an alcohol addiction often have a reputation as being a drinker. They may think of themselves as some type of part monster and their identity as a drinker is often more pronounced than their identity for doing anything else.Their identity as a drinker will often interfere with any desire to stop drinking.

Getting real: The road to alcohol recovery

Because alcohol addiction is often denied by the student who has a problem, it may take friends and family to help them see the true scope of their alcohol addiction problem. It is a form of maladjustment and many people need to attend alcohol rehab or an alcohol recovery program to overcome their alcohol addiction. Trying to stop drinking on their own is extremely difficult and many college students need help taking the first step toward alcohol recovery. They need to know that help is available on many campuses and in most major cities. Alcohol rehab and alcohol treatment centers can help students better understand and overcome their alcohol addiction.

The bottom line is once a college student admits they have an alcohol addiction problem they can start to make decisions to change their life for the better and eventually stop drinking. Because student alcoholics are in denial and often rationalize their drinking problem it is important that the people around them who care about them help them see that drinking has become a serious problem. They need to know how it is affecting their lives and their relationships with others. For alcoholics to really want to change and improve their lives they need to know they have a problem, they need to be bothered by the problem, and they need to want to fix the problem. Once they have done that alcohol recovery can become an option and a way to finally stop drinking.

If other college students or family and friends help the alcoholic students rationalize and gloss over the problem behavior, it is likely they will never know that their alcohol addiction is a problem for them and for the significant others in their lives. Alcoholic students need support and help to realize there is a problem that over time will cause serious harm. If you know someone who has an alcohol addiction it is best let them know in a genuine and honest way that they need help and that they may need to attend alcohol rehab to deal with the their alcohol addiction.


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    • TPSicotte profile image

      TPSicotte 7 years ago from The Great White North

      thank you. I am glad it was informative.

    • winepress profile image

      winepress 7 years ago

      Very useful Hub.