Drinking in College

College is a time when young people of America can take their first steps towards freedom away from their parents and the rules of the home. While this is an exciting time, it is often accompanied by students experimenting with alcohol consumption and engaging in high-risk activities. For those students who have already begun their alcohol consumption before college, this is a time where the use of alcohol can get increasingly worse for individuals surrounded by the parties and social peer pressure around them to engage in college binge drinking or alcohol and drug use.

If you or a loved one are struggling with addiction, call WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab today at 877.969.1993 to learn how we can help.

Problem Drinking in College Students 

Alcohol consumption looks different for each student engaging in the party scene of college. Each person will have their own unique set of reasons and motivations for their alcohol use. While some may turn to alcohol as a means of connecting with peers and do so within the parties and social events held on college campuses, others may turn to alcohol consumption as a method of coping with the high stress of college and begin to develop a regular pattern of alcohol use. 

Alcohol can also alter behaviors, especially in young adults. See why alcohol makes people angry in our blog below:


The Definition of Heavy Drinking

Heavy or excessive drinking is defined as four or more drinks per day and more than 14 drinks a week for men. It is defined as three or more drinks per day and more than seven per week for women. 

The Definition of Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as four or more drinks within a two-hour window for women and drinking five or more drinks within two hours for males. Due to the metabolic differences in men and women, there is a difference in how each gender processes alcohol, which attributes to the variations in drinks within each definition. 

Consequences of Alcohol Abuse in College Students

It is no secret that alcohol consumption leads to high-risk behaviors and puts the individual at risk for consequences within their physical health, emotional well-being, and social life. Some of the most common effects of alcohol abuse within college students are:


Students abusing alcohol face deadly risks such as alcohol poisoning when engaging in binge or heavy drinking patterns, leading to an alcohol coma or death. Additionally, alcohol impacts a person’s ability to make sound decisions and impairs a person’s judgment and impulse control. This often leads to high-risk behavior such as drinking and driving that can lead to motor vehicle accidents that are fatal. 


Alcohol consumption can impair someone’s ability to control their emotions and impulses, leading to physical violence and discord between others. It has been reported that nearly 696,000 college students have been assaulted by another student who had been drinking alcohol. 

Sexual Assault

The media has begun to capture a growing number of sexual assault cases within college students over the recent years and has shined a light on this rising concern. Research has noted that nearly one in five women in college will experience a sexual assault within their academic careers. While alcohol is involved, it is common for other substances to be present during the assault. 

Academic success impacted

College students that engage in binge drinking or heavy alcohol consumption are three times more likely to experience difficulties maintaining their grades and have challenges keeping up with assignments or passing exams due to their alcohol use. 

Alcohol use disorder

College students who are exposed to alcohol consumption are more likely to develop an alcohol addiction. At least 9% of college students develop an alcohol addiction during their academic careers. 

Risk Factors for Abusing Alcohol in College

Common risk factors for students for abusing alcohol are:

  • Lack of experience with alcohol consumption before coming to college 
  • Increase in free time or having unstructured time 
  • Alcohol being widely accessible to students
  • Limited connection or interaction with positive adults that students once relied on before entering college 
  • Legal alcohol consumption laws are not consistently enforced on campus or within the college atmosphere 
  • Peer pressure 

How Parents Can Help

As a parent, you can support your child through their college experience and help them to know the risks involved with alcohol abuse in the following ways:

Have an open, transparent conversation with your son or daughter to inform them of the dangers of alcohol abuse, including the various factors that underage college partying can affect within their life- social, academic, physical health, and emotional well-being.

Inform your child about the potential risk of alcohol poisoning, including what it is, what signs to look for, and how best to help someone experiencing alcohol poisoning.

Check in with your loved ones when they are away, especially within the first six weeks. This will allow them to have an open dialogue about any struggles they are having and reaffirm that they can turn to you if they need anything as you provide them with supportive mental health care.

Alcohol Addiction Treatment for College Students

WhiteSands Alcohol and Drug Rehab offers addiction treatment centers throughout Florida that provide flexible options for those college students looking to heal from alcohol use disorder. Students can choose between an inpatient, residential rehab, or an intensive outpatient rehab program that allows them to recover from their alcohol use disorder and maintain their academic performance. We support patients in understanding what has been at the root of their alcohol addiction while helping individuals develop the tools for a successful, happy life in sobriety. We use the latest in addiction therapy methods and mental health care that will support students to heal from the inside out and make a long-lasting change in addiction recovery. Contact us today to learn more about alcohol treatment programs.

If you or a loved one needs help with abuse and/or treatment, please call the WhiteSands Treatment at (877) 855-3470. Our addiction specialists can assess your recovery needs and help you get the addiction treatment that provides the best chance for your long-term recovery.

About the Author

Jackie has been involved in the substance abuse and addiction treatment sector for over five years and this is something that she is truly eager about. She has a passion for writing and continuously works to create informative pieces that not only educate and inform the public about the disease of addiction but also provide solutions for those who struggle with drug and alcohol abuse.