Is Drinking a Big Part of Your Campus Culture?

Posted by Shelley Kilpatrick on 24 March 2016 |

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Drinking as a Part of Campus Culture

students campus drinkingIn an article from NPR last year, it was reported that alcohol educational programs on campuses work, but the effects fade very quickly—making them extremely useful, but only if they are administered throughout the year and in different formats.

This raises the question of why they are only useful for shorter periods of time? Researchers in this study claimed that it’s a complicated problem because students have the perception that it’s okay to drink, as fast and as much as possible.

This sentiment is echoed on the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism’s (NIAAA) website. NIAAA makes the case that drinking has developed into a kind of culture that’s embedded in the campus environment:

  • Sports arenas proudly display advertisements from alcohol industry sponsors
  • Alumni events and social functions serve alcohol to all participants
  • Restaurants and bars surround the campus to serve alcohol to patrons

And when combined with peer influences, such as pressure to experiment with alcohol, this creates a culture that actively or passively promotes drinking as a rite of passage.

Consequences of Student Drinking

Part of the problem with creating this culture of drinking is that it’s dangerous for students. So whether or not a student chooses to drink, everyone on campus ends up suffering the consequences:

  • About four out of five college students drink alcohol
  • About half of college students who drink also consume alcohol through binge drinking
  • 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes
  • 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol
  • 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking
  • 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape

To help keep this culture of drinking from influencing students’ behaviors, it’s important to provide alcohol education and prevention training.

Training Helps to Address Myths Students Believe About Drinking

One of the reasons that alcohol education and prevention training works is because it helps to dispel the myths students have about drinking, such as these three found on the NIAAA’s website:

Drinking isn’t all that dangerous.

One in three 18 to 24-year-olds admitted to emergency rooms for serious injuries is intoxicated. Also, alcohol is associated with homicides, suicides and drowning.

If I have to, I can sober up quickly.

It takes about three hours to eliminate the alcohol content of two drinks, depending on your weight. And there’s nothing that can speed up this process—not even coffee or a cold shower.

I’d be better off if I learned to “hold my liquor.”

Increasing your “tolerance”—drinking larger amounts of alcohol to feel the effects—is actually a warning sign that you’re developing more serious problems with alcohol.

Additionally, alcohol education and prevention training helps to teach students about the ways alcohol abuse is connected to poor academic achievement, resources available to them if they or someone they know has a problem, and ways they can still have fun without drinking.

More Ways to Prevent Underage and Excessive Drinking

Alcohol education and prevention training is essential, but it needs to be provided in conjunction with other activities to be sustainable. NIAAA offers suggestions on ways colleges and universities can help to reduce underage and excessive drinking:

  • Understand and become active in implementing strategies that target the entire study body, the campus and surrounding community environment, and the individual at-risk, problem, or alcohol-dependent student drinker.
  • Work with the administration to help plan and implement interventions. For example, Alcohol Screening Day occurs every April—does it happen on your campus?
  • Openly support policy changes aimed at altering the culture of drinking on campus.
  • Understand and advocate for the implementation of the research-based strategies, as well as programs that include an evaluation component.
  • Work to improve joint campus-community efforts to limit student high-risk drinking.

You can also find more strategies for preventing alcohol abuse on your campus in a previous blog we wrote.

Conclusion

A campus-wide culture promoting drinking is dangerous for students because it can lead to excessive and underage drinking. To combat this culture on your campus, you can implement alcohol education and prevention training, along with a host of additional strategies.

To learn more about our alcohol education and prevention training, schedule a demo today.

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