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College years in the United States: good times for good fun or alcoholism in denial

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Alcoholism in College Students

Everybody knows it is one of the major happenings on a college campus, and that it is probably one of the biggest problems across the United States today. The social stigma around drinking on college campuses is so widely recognized that college officials realize that they cannot try to intervene it, but more than less only help with regulating it and hope for the best. For me, excessive drinking almost got the best of my freshman year. There seems to be an expectation when one goes to college and that is to at some point or another, get drunk.

There was a longitudinal study done at the State University of New York at Buffalo that surveyed 557 college students aged 18-24 and from all different races and ethnicities. (Wardell, 2013) The study stretched over a span of two years. It was hypothesized that there would be “strong reciprocal associations with norms than with positive alcohol expectations for the college students.” (Wardell, 2013) So basically it said that there would be an expectation that the students would over estimate the amount that their peers of same gender would consume in a given month. This would then in turn make the students of the survey drink a larger quantity of alcohol to match their peers. This part of the study hits home for me. I thought I had to be able to drink a lot and be able to handle it before I was considered a “college student.” The other hypothesis from the study was that the positive expectation experiences coming from alcohol would be just as many other studies have shown, and that is there isn’t much of a positive experience from it at all. (Wardell, 2013) The factors the researchers thought of that could have possibly helped create a positive experience were such things as “tension reduction, social lubrication and activity and performance enhancement beliefs.” (Wardell, 2013) This part of the study makes so much sense to me now as well. In the moment I never thought of what the actual benefits of drinking were. It then occurred to me besides the small social life impact it may provide, that there weren’t any benefits at all.

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In another study done in 2012 about on campus alcohol intervention programs students were admitted to this program called Stepped Care. (Borsari, 2012) This study is very simple and yet effective in many ways. It is only build on a foundation of two simple steps for the students. (Borsari, 2012) First time violating students would receive a 15 minute session of advice supplemented with a book about the risk of excessive drinking. The second time around was a 60-90 minute motivational intervention in which the student was told this was there last chance to reduce their habits and make a change. (Borsari, 2012) This part of the study could have gone either way for students. They could have either decided they didn’t need the advice of a counselor, or they realized that the counselors are just trying to prevent bad decisions because they see potential in them. This thought process would allow the student to self-assess themselves. This whole process relates to the college experience as well. It gives you some guidance and advice in decisions but it doesn’t go too far as to make the decisions for a student. It helps to create a sense of individuality and maturity, which is why we are in college in the first place right?

There has been many studies and research on the effects of alcohol on college students. The outcomes always seem to come out in a similar pattern. There is no true benefit from consumption of alcohol being aware of this will help one get over the norms and expectancies of the college lifestyle. I’m glad I was aware enough in my first year of college to realize this, or I may not have made it to where I am today. The decision to reduce my social life for a better future for my education, career and overall well-being may have been the best decision I have made in my life thus far.

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