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Partying or Problem? When College Drinking Goes too Far

College is an exciting time in every young person’s life. Not only are you building towards a new career, but you are also thrust out of the confines of your parent’s home and into a world where you are exposed to different people and different lifestyles.

A term you often hear in the United States is “the college experience.” The college experience can vary from person to person, but in general, this turn of phrase usually refers to late nights, new friends, and experimenting with drugs and alcohol. Drinking at college has become a ritual that students often see as an integral part of their higher education experience. Unfortunately, the environment of college can lead to unhealthy drinking habits that can be detrimental to your mental and physical health.

When you’re in college, a fine line between partying and a problem can manifest at any time. How do you know if you’re just socializing and experimenting or potentially developing unhealthy habits with drugs and alcohol?

Crunching the Numbers 

A nationwide survey conducted by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) found that “almost 53 percent of full-time college students ages 18 to 22 drank alcohol in the past month and about 33 percent engaged in binge drinking during that same time frame.” The NIAAA defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking alcohol that brings blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08% or higher. For men, this typically means consuming five drinks or more on one occasion and four drinks or more for females.

However, some college students drink at least twice that amount, a behavior that is often called high-intensity drinking. Within the cultural and social traditions of college in America, heavy drinking is expected. Within Greek life communities, heavy and high-intensity drinking is often condoned and endorsed.

If you are attending college and worried about your level of drinking, it may be worthwhile to keep a mental note of how many drinks you are having and how often. The norms and traditions of the “college experience” can sometimes be detrimental to your physical and mental wellbeing.

Being Aware of Your Habits 

If you have ever had a drink before, you know that alcohol acts as a “social lubricant” for many people. You may feel friendlier, funnier, more confident, etc. This type of “social lubrication” can come in handy when you leave your hometown and attempt to thrust yourself into a new social dynamic in a new city. Add the stress of studying and final exams to the equation, and it is no surprise that many college students engage in binge and high-intensity drinking.

This juxtaposition of a stressful environment combined with a “let-loose” set of cultural norms and traditions can be a recipe for disaster for substance abuse. However, being mindful of your habits and level of consumption can help you maintain your mental and emotional wellbeing while you are in school.

Stay Mindful 

If you are soon to start your college career or are currently attending college, you may ask yourself, “Do I have a problem with drinking?” at some point. The stressful environment and norms associated with the American collegiate lifestyle can sometimes cause us to rationalize heavy drinking as “a part of the experience.” However, in doing so, we are discounting our future selves.

Adjusting to a new city and way of life while also coping with the complex subject matter and rapid-succession deadlines can exacerbate the average college student’s desire to engage in binge drinking and high-intensity drinking. However, for the sake of your mental, physical, and emotional wellbeing, it is essential to be mindful of how you socialize and cope.

If you are often engaging in binge drinking, you may be developing an unhealthy relationship with alcohol. Being mindful of your alcohol consumption can prevent you from developing these unhealthy habits.

The Difference Between Partying and a “Problem” 

Everyone has a different story and set of experiences when they first attend college. What may work for you may be too much for another person and vice-versa. Some people leave college without developing unhealthy drinking habits, while others enter college with unhealthy habits. Everyone is different when it comes to substance abuse.

However, regardless of biological and emotional differences and limits, when alcohol begins to interfere with your everyday life and obligations, the line between partying and a problem has effectively been crossed. If your grades are slipping and you find that you are prioritizing alcohol over studying, you may be beginning to develop an unhealthy relationship with alcohol.

College is a wonderful time in many people’s lives. It’s where many people meet their best friends, business partners, and lifelong connections. In college, it is often seen as normal to participate in parties and drink significant amounts of alcohol. However, the stressful late nights and fun-filled weekends can wear on your physical and mental wellbeing. If you feel like you are beginning to develop an unhealthy relationship with alcohol, Achieve Concierge is here to help. Our team of experts and professionals works with you to create a comprehensive treatment plan tailored to your needs. Our members have access to a full range of services. From TMS to cognitive behavioral therapy, Achieve Concierge can help you work towards leading a happier, healthier life. If you find that alcohol is becoming a detriment to your studies, we are here to help. Call us today to learn more about the services we offer at (858) 221-0344.