Drunken Brains. Blog Article #2

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Before associating specific problems with college drinking, I think it’s beneficial to get a general sense of what alcohol does to the brain.


The average undergraduate college student is between the ages of 18 and 22. While only a fraction of them are of legal age, this certainly does not prevent them from drinking. Regardless, the following analysis includes students of both legal and non-legal drinking ages. A BBC news article explains that neuroscience has shown that human brain development continues into an individual’s late 20s. This includes development of a person’s emotions, judgment, and self-image. None of this will be set in stone until their prefrontal cortex is fully developed. The Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health points out that underage drinking “Can cause alterations in the structure and function of the developing brain, which continues to mature into the mid- to late twenties, and may have consequences reaching far beyond adolescence.” Alcohol, or any substance for that matter, has a more profound affect on underdeveloped brains.

Source: http://www.hsph.harvard.edu/news/magazine/winter09binge/

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CNN cites that most students, about 70%, who participate in underage drinking binge-drink. Heavy exposure to alcohol can cause severe, irreversible brain damage including, but certainly not limited to, memory loss and decreased memory retention. At a young age, these effects are more profound since the brain is not fully developed. To give you an idea of the distribution of how college student assess their own drinking habits, check out the pie-chart breakdown from a Harvard News post. Since this is a self-assessment, keep in mind that there may be some bias in what the students said about themselves. This is why this data does not match up perfectly with the CNN report I talked about.


Alcohol begins affecting the brain in noticeable ways once you reach between 0.04 and 0.08 blood alcohol content (BAC). When drunk, three primary parts of the brain are impacted: the amygdala (uhmig-duh-luh), frontal lobes, and the hippocampus. The amygdala regulates your comprehension of fear . The more you drink, the more this part of the brain is suppressed. You are less afraid of what the consequences of getting “wasted” will be after every drink you have. The frontal lobes in the brain regulate decision-making. Alcohol consumption temporarily degrades their functionality. This is why drunk people tend to make brash, illogical, and irresponsible decisions. The hippocampus is responsible for making memories in the brain. Alcohol consumption temporarily disrupts this function in the human brain.  Some students think they benefit from this because drinking may help them forget about their worries and responsibilities. Find out more here.


  • Alcohol has a more severe affect on college students because their brains are still developing
  • More than two-thirds of students who consume alcohol binge-drink
  • Binge-drinking causes students to quickly and consistently get drunk
  • Above a BAC of 0.8, brain functionality is significantly impaired

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Is Drinking in College Really that Harmful? Blog Article #1


Hi, my name is Andrew Spangler. I am a Junior at the University of Maryland (UMD) majoring in Civil Engineering in the Clark School of Engineering. For my semester long technical writing project, I would like to explore and address a prominent on-campus problem. While the problem I chose to tackle exists on many college campuses, I have the ability to make the greatest strides in solving the issue by starting my investigation locally at UMD. One benefit of this is that I will be able to easily conduct primary research. In my weekly blog posts, I will provide different perspectives and analyses revolving around one central issue.


About 80 percent of college students drink alcohol. If such a large portion of the student body drinks, how harmful can it really be? It depends on how much individual students consume. Alcohol is not the problem. Overuse and dependence on it is the primary concern. Over the course of this fall semester, I aim to thoroughly explore the many facets of this issue.

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Alcohol consumption and alcohol abuse are two very different things. The old saying “drink responsibly” has significant credibility to it. At many college campuses, including UMD, this advice is often blatantly ignored. Between getting caught up in drinking games, social peer pressure, and trying to relieve the stress from classes, it is easy to exceed your limits with alcohol. For some students, alcohol is extremely addicting and leads to dependence on it. The Diamondback student newspaper reports that “nearly one in five underage college students [at UMD] have alcohol problems.” Based on both personal observation and basic preliminary research, excessive alcohol consumption, also sometimes referred to as binge drinking, causes a decrease in students’ academic performance.


This on-campus problem affects nearly everyone. This includes, but is not limited to, students, parents, and faculty. In addition to potentially harming the reputation of UMD with their inadequate academic performance, binge drinking directly affects the

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health of the students themselves. Excessive drinking causes diabetes, liver disease, heart disease, high blood pressure, and can have a negative affect on the immune system. These serious health detriments are apparent to most people. Students affected by health issues caused by excessive drinking will likely maintain them into their adult lives. Both the University Health Center and the Counseling Center should be concerned about this problem at UMD.  Regardless of who the responsibility falls on, action needs to be taken.


So, is drinking in college really that harmful? Though it doesn’t have to be, alcohol use is often abused by students. This carries with it both academic and health-related problems.

Thanks for taking the time to give this a read. If you have any feedback or suggestions for future posts I make, don’t hesitate to let me know in the comments below. I am happy to answer any questions you may have.

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