Signs of Alcoholism in College Students

Whether or not we choose to believe it, drinking alcohol is a major part of the college experience. For many college students, this time in their lives becomes the opportunity for them to experiment with many different aspects of life, including drinking. While many students drink during college and move on to adjust to healthy adult lives, others often find themselves addicted to alcohol due to their binge drinking in college.

Common Signs of Alcoholism in College Students

Because of their young age, many college students do not think that their drinking behaviors could ever develop into a more serious issue; however, it is becoming more common with each class that enters into this type of school setting. Some of the most common signs of alcoholism in college students include the following:

• Irresponsibility – College is one of the first places where students are encouraged to become independent and responsible for themselves and their actions, including doing well in school and maintaining a well-balanced life. When a college student begins to drink to excess, he or she is more likely to lack in terms of responsibility, meaning that they might not show up to class, complete assignments, or take their living situation seriously.

• Legal issues – When drinking becomes a problem, many college students will begin experiencing legal issues pertaining to their misuse. This can include receiving one or more DUI’s, being kicked off campus, or having a run-in with the local police.

• Tolerance – As a student continues to drink heavily, he or she is going to build up a strong tolerance, meaning their body is no longer affected by small amounts of alcohol. As a result, he or she will need to drink more in order to achieve the desired effect of being drunk.

• Withdrawal – Every college student gets a hangover, but for those who are abusing alcohol, these hangovers can quickly turn into withdrawal symptoms that can keep them from engaging in their day-to-day lives. This can cause them to keep drinking to avoid these withdrawal episodes, leading to full-blown alcoholism.

College students’ lives can quickly begin to spiral out of control if their alcohol use becomes excessive. Not only will they begin experiencing withdrawal symptoms, increased tolerance, and serious personal consequences of their use, but they will also neglect everything and everyone who would have otherwise attempted to help them succeed in college.

How Alcohol Affects College Students: Long Term Effects

Heavy drinking between the ages of 18 and 25 can permanently increase a person’s risk of heart attack, stroke, and atherosclerosis (hardening of the heart’s arterial walls), according to a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology. The study involved 38 non-smoking adults that were divided into two groups: those who abstained from alcohol and those who were binge drinking in college (five or more servings of alcohol in two hours, at least six times a month for four years). The study found that those who abstained from drinking had elastic blood vessels that dilated with relative ease compared to the blood vessels of the binge drinkers.

This is an important finding of how alcohol affects college students, because blood vessel function and damage are indicators of potential cardiovascular issues in the future. Shockingly, the American College of Cardiology reports that binge drinking in college (five drinks in two hours for men or four drinks in two hours for women) can do as much damage to cardiovascular health as having six or more drinks every day for a lifetime.
It seems that the effects of binge drinking don’t end when college students move on and into the workforce. The potential for long-term consequences is a clear indication that the phenomenon of binge drinking in college needs more attention.

If you or a loved one has a problem with alcohol, Northbound Treatment can help. Our highly-trained clinical staff has developed comprehensive programs at our drug and alcohol treatment centers. For more information about our services, visit our admissions page.

Article Reviewed by Paul Alexander

Paul AlexanderPaul Alexander is the founder and CEO of Northbound Treatment. He received his Certified Addiction Treatment Specialist training at Saddleback College in Mission Viejo, CA, and was awarded Outstanding Alumni Service Award in 2002. Paul holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminology, Law and Society, Summa Cum Laude, from University of California, Irvine, and a Juris Doctorate degree from Loyola Law School of Los Angeles. He believes wholeheartedly in transformational leadership, organizational health and effective, fully integrated substance use disorder treatment.