Drinking in college is often something that comes with the territory for students. Being away from home for the first time, making new friends, and having new experiences, often alcohol is a guest at any college party of social function.


According to recent surveys, drinking is a normal part of the college experience for many students. 54.9% of full-time college students between the ages of 18 to 22 reported drinking alcohol within the past month, with 36.9% reported partaking in binge drinking behavior in the same time frame. Overall, 80% of college students reported that they regularly drank alcohol while attending a college or university.


However, what happens with college students when their drinking goes too far? What happens when social and responsible drinking starts to have consequences for students, such as poor performance in school, missing classes or assignments, bad grades, medical issues, or they begin to put themselves in dangerous situations?


While drinking at college is certainly part of the academic ritual for many students, many college students run into problems with alcohol while at school. While some students may enter college with already established patterns of problem drinking, others may begin to develop problematic behavior regarding their alcohol intake for the first time while at college. Many problems can arise from this dangerous behavior, including academic problems, social problems, behavioral problems like violence and fighting, dangerous situations such as assaults or sexual assaults, or the development of an alcohol use disorder (AUD.) Death is even a very real possibility.


The most recent statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) estimate that about 1519 college students ages 18 to 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle accidents.


The problems with alcohol and problem drinking on college campuses are wide-reaching and impact thousands of students each year. College is often a time that causes students stress and anxiety. Struggling students also can suffer from depression. These can all increase alcohol consumption.  This also does not take into account the many students who may already be dealing with a diagnosed mental health issue such as anxiety or depression. Peer pressure can increase alcohol consumption.


The most recent data suggests that about one in four college students report that they have experienced academic difficulties from drinking. About 20% of college students meet medical criteria for suffering from an alcohol use disorder. Over two-thirds of college students admit to regularly drinking during the Fall 2020 semester.


For parents, it is vital that they stay informed as to what their child is dealing with while away at college. Open lines of communication and being non-judgmental is vital, so that the student may feel safe to share their struggles. In light of the last year of COVID-19, it is even more important that parents understand the struggles that their children may be having while attending college. The coronavirus pandemic is causing a spike in mental health issues throughout society: opioid overdose deaths, substance use disorder, and thoughts of suicide. While many students are now on college campuses, they may be engaged in school virtually, which can increase isolation and disconnection, which in turn can cause a rise in alcohol misuse and alcohol abuse. Now more than ever it is important for college students and the parents of college students to make all necessary steps to support health and wellness.


If a college student is losing control of their drinking and beginning to identify problematic behaviors related to alcohol, or if the parents of college students are noticing similar issues, the good news is that help is available. More colleges and universities are beginning to understand the need for students suffering from substance use disorder to take the necessary time to seek detox and treatment, and some colleges and universities offer collegiate recovery services on campus, to offer a supportive environment for students that are returning to school after treatment.


If you are the parent of a college student dealing with alcoholism or problems with alcohol, it is important to support your child in getting the help that they need. This will go along way in making sure that they do not get further academic, social, or health consequences based on their drinking. The additional good news is that students who do suffer problematic drinking patterns and need to get treatment, often return to school when sober and perform better academically than the regular student population.


If you or someone you know needs help for addiction or co-occurring disorders, please give us a call. Innovo Detox offers the latest in evidence-based medical, psychiatric, and clinical care for those in need of detox and medical stabilization in Pennsylvania and the surrounding Mid-Atlantic area. If we aren’t the best fit for you or a loved one, we will take the necessary time to work with you to find a detox, rehab, treatment center or provider that better fits your needs. Please give us a call at (717) 619-3260 or email our team at info@innovodetox.com. For more information on our company or services, please visit our website at www.innovodetox.com.