College life is the period of peak exploration for students to try different things. Among things explored, alcohol is one of the popular stuff tried and abused by college students. Drinking alcohol is acceptable if done moderately, but drinking too much and too often can lead to serious health and behavioral side effects.

How Common is Alcohol Abuse Among College Students in the United States?

It is not a surprise that alcohol abuse and binge drinking are highly prevalent among college students in the United States. The reason behind is that it is treated as an inevitable part of the whole experience of being a college student. A person who has not tried drinking and getting drunk is treated differently among peers.

However, this ritual has become a serious problem in society. Several cases have shown that alcohol abuse reduced academic performance and well-being of students. To see its impact on the lives of college students, here are some important statistics about it.

Alcohol Abuse Among College Students:

  • Around 58 percent of full-time college students (age 18-22 years) had alcohol consumption last month
  • 2 out of 3 students practice binge drinking
  • 37.9 percent of college students ages 18 to 22 years are doing binge drinking
  • Every day, each student ingests 1.7 drinks and experiences 2.8 times of excessive drinking per month.
  • Estimated 81 percent of college students experienced alcohol drinking once in their entire college life
  • 32 percent of college students are doing binge drinking

What Are the Reasons for College Students to Drink?

Going to college is a new environment for all students. This is where people meet new people and it is a good avenue to make a fresh start. There are several reasons why students drink alcohol but the major factor pushing them is social camaraderie. To further understand, below are some of the common reasons why college students engage in alcohol drinking.

  • Fitting In: Entering college is a new stage in one's student life. It is where a student meets a new set of people and a time to develop one's identity. Every student wants to project an image of being "socially in" so that there will be social acceptance and gratification. Likewise, 74.4 percent of college students believe that alcohol drinking motivates social activity.
  • Peer Pressure: Peer pressure is strongly linked to “fitting in”. There are huge chances where one greatly exerts effort to be in a certain circle of friends. As a result, this student tends to do what is being asked by the group in order to be accepted. Mostly, freshmen are made to do challenges on alcohol drinking as a means of getting social acceptance. Likewise, 61.7 percent of college students think that alcohol drinking enhances peer connection.
  • Stress Reliever and Better Mood: In college, one experiences several stress factors from various situations such as academic papers, deadlines, exams, conflict with friends, bullying, and social rejection. Most students have the mindset of relieving stress through drinking. In the early stages, alcohol lightens up the mood and calms one's nerves. However, the negative effects of alcohol drinking, in the long run, outweigh this temporal benefit.
  • Celebrations: It has been a common practice for most college students to grab a drink whenever something positive comes in. However, students mostly forget to control one’s drinking intake due to extreme happiness felt during the celebration. Approximately, 63.1 percent of college students think drinking alcohol brings more fun in a celebration.
  • Easier Expression of Feelings: Being shy or feeling reserved on expressing one's feelings to the opposite sex is natural for most students, particularly if you have low self-esteem. Most students have the mindset that drinking alcohol will give them more courage to express their thoughts and feelings towards the opposite sex. Furthermore, 66.6 percent of students believe that drinking allows people to talk more about different topics.
  • Enhances Sexuality: A huge population of college students believes that alcohol drinking makes them feel sexier. Around 19.9 percent of male students and 28.8 percent, female students believe the same concept. Likewise, excessive alcohol drinking increases the risk of unsafe sex and sexual harassment.
  • Relieves Boredom: College life is a stage when a person prepares oneself for adulthood. Students are tasked with several school-related activities and deadlines. These things become a routine which can be dragging and boring for students. As a result, these students turn to drink as a means to unwind and break the monotony. Approximately, 74.4 percent of students find drinking as an effective way of killing boredom.

What Are the Consequences of Alcohol Abuse for College Students?

Alcohol drinking only has a perceived positive effect in the short-term, but the long-term negative effects outweigh it. This unhealthy behavior if not controlled and stopped results in the following consequences:

Around 1,825 college students ages 18 to 24 die from accidents due to the influence of alcohol.

Physical Assault

An estimated 696,000 students ages 18 to 24 have been physically assaulted by another student under the influence of alcohol.

Sexual Assault

About 97,000 students ages 18 to 24 have experienced sexual assault either by drunk people or due to one’s state of alcohol intoxication

Decreased Academic Performance

Around 1 in 4 students have been reported not attending classes, not submitting papers, and failing exams due to the influence of alcohol.


Aside from the ones mentioned, other consequences of alcoholism among college students include unsafe sex, drunk driving, motor vehicle accidents, vandalism, petty crimes, and suicidal behaviors.

How to Prevent Alcohol Abuse Among College Students?

There is no single method to mitigate alcohol abuse among college students. This dilemma must be confronted with several strategies due to the nature of this issue. Below are some mixed strategies to help reduce the incidence of alcohol abuse among students.

  • Information Drive and Awareness: Self-education and awareness should be promoted to prevent the progression of this unhealthy behavior. The parents and the students must be well-informed about the detrimental effects of alcoholism if permitted to linger and develop.
  • Cognitive Behavioral Approaches: The students are made aware of the connection between thought and action. Students are made to identify negative thoughts that lead them to drink alcohol. After, positive coping mechanisms are formulated to address these negative thoughts.
  • Motivational Interviewing: In this intervention, students with alcoholism are assisted to develop self-motivation and willingness to change for the better. The aim is to let the students realize that one’s current behavior is unhealthy and change is necessary in order to prevent further damage in one’s life.