Four years go by so fast. In order to live these years to the fullest, you head to the bars Monday, Tuesday…heck, if it ends in ‘day,’ you’re there! You’re not an alcoholic, you’re a college student…right?
Heavy drinking, or binge drinking, which constitutes having five or more drinks in one sitting, is widely accepted among college students, but this behavior is not necessarily tolerated after college. Bree Cohen, advertising sophomore, said, “Later on in life, binge drinking isn’t acceptable, but in our atmosphere it is accepted, if not encouraged.”
[side2] Deb Newhouse, a social worker in Traverse City, explained that a binge drinker in the real world is considered an alcoholic. “It is hard to say whether or not a college student is an alcoholic because they may grow out of a binge drinking phase,” Newhouse said. “An obvious sign of addiction is repeated problems with alcohol.” These signs may include failing classes, losing a job, getting arrested or having to leave college because of problems with alcohol. For instance, getting arrested on a Friday is not an excuse to miss class the next week.
Students may view binge drinking differently than others, including what addictive behavior might look like. Tom Springsteen, psychology junior, said, “I think when people drink heavily alone, alcohol is a problem.”
Other problems students saw were using alcohol as an escape. Nikki Mankowski, social relations junior said, “I think when young people use alcohol to escape reality it is a problem.”
Many college students see binge drinking as an outlet, but binging is very dangerous. Barbara Russell, a social worker from Traverse City, agrees. “If a student is avoiding responsibility and more interested in getting high, there is a problem with alcoholism,” she said. Some major consequences include accidental overdose, causing sickness or death; drunk driving; blackouts and loss of sensory perception.
For those still unaware, alcoholism is a disease and the craving an alcoholic feels for alcohol can be as powerful as the need for water. An alcoholic will continue to drink despite serious family, legal or health problems. As with several other diseases, alcoholism is chronic, meaning it lasts a person’s entire lifetime; it usually follows a predictable course and it has symptoms. The risk for developing alcoholism is influenced by a person’s genes and also by his or her lifestyle.
[life] According to Newhouse, the risk of developing alcoholism does run in families. The National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism reports the genes a person inherits partially explain this pattern, but lifestyle is also a factor. Currently, researchers are working to discover the actual genes putting people at risk for alcoholism. Your friends, the amount of stress in your life and the availability of alcohol are factors that may increase a person’s risk for alcoholism.
However, just because alcoholism runs in families doesn’t mean the child of an alcoholic parent or relative will automatically become an alcoholic. Some people develop alcoholism even though no one in their family has a drinking problem. “A child of an alcoholic parent or relative will not automatically become an alcoholic, too, but the child may be predisposed to alcoholism,” Russell said. Additionally, not all children of alcoholic families get into trouble with alcohol. Awareness of your family’s history is important. In turn, you can take precautionary steps to protect yourself from developing problems.
“When young people enter “the real world,” they begin to realize the consequences of their actions,” Mankowski said. This may ring true for many students who are entering the job force or starting a family. There are more responsibilities after college, thus more consequences for heavy drinking. For instance, blacking out at a company Christmas party most likely won’t push you up the ladder to success.
[child] If you think you may have a problem, there are some important questions to ask yourself: Have you ever felt you should cut down on your drinking? Have people annoyed you by criticizing your drinking? Have you ever felt bad or guilty about your drinking? Have you ever had a drink first thing in the morning to steady your nerves or to get rid of a hangover? You may not be an alcoholic, but abusing alcohol can also have major consequences.
Alcohol abuse can ruin families, relationships and lives. If you have failed classes, gotten arrested, have frequent blackouts or have had reoccurring problems when using alcohol, you may need to reevaluate your drinking habits. Take a look at yourself and the people in your life, because it may save some lives, including your own.
Besides, what good are these four years if you can’t remember them?

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