Many students are fascinated and empowered by drinking. For some, it acts as a status symbol. Why is alcohol so appealing? And why is drinking the go-to activity for so many students? Based on my research for this blog post, I found out that there are four main reasons that college students drink.
When first starting your college career, you are in a completely new environment and typically find yourself having to make all new friends. Between trying to fit in with your peers and meet high academic expectations, students are often overwhelmed with their new life. Introverted, shy students may especially have difficulty putting themselves out there. This is where alcohol comes in. According to a 2013 study, there is a positive relationship between social drinking motives and drinking behaviors. Though the study only showed a correlation between socialization and drinking, a lot of students do rely on parties to meet new people. You have probably experienced this yourself. Drinking can be difficult to avoid because alcohol is the centerpiece of most college parties.
Why, then, is alcohol the go-to activity at most college parties? The answer is simple. It’s cheap. The table on the right provides a good cost comparison between alcohol-related activities and non-drinking activities. Why would you go to an expensive concert when you could just go to a party with high-energy music at practically no cost? If house parties aren’t your thing, most bars surrounding college campuses offer ridiculously cheap deals on drinks, such as happy-hour specials, nearly every night of the week (source). This has done nothing but exacerbate the binge-drinking issue on college campuses, especially here at UMD.
Some students drink to cope with emotional problems. Dependence on alcohol can quickly lead to alcohol abuse. If drinking is significantly altering your lifestyle, then it is a problem. Drinking due to emotional instability is one of the most influential factors of heavy episodic drinking. Temporarily enhancing your mood, students coping with severe emotional, physical, or mental stress are susceptible to drinking too much.
Many students attend parties without the intention of getting wasted because they have other responsibilities or commitments the next day. As a student at a party, it can be difficult to refuse drinks from your peers. Drunk people sincerely want you to get in on what they have because they want you to have a good time too. That’s why you will frequently be offered so many drinks when you go to a party. The party hosts don’t have an agenda to get you wasted and hungover. An interview with several college students revealed that if you refuse a few times though, people will respect your decision and stop pressuring you.
There are several reasons, both good and bad, that you may choose to get involved with drinking in college. Socializing is beneficial for human development but using alcohol as a treatment for emotional problems can quickly lead to serious addiction issues. Don’t let drinking be your automatic “let’s have a good time” activity. In doing this, it can become a habit and lead to a lifestyle dependent on alcohol. What do you think? Why do you drink?
*Source for featured image on cover