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The effects of alcohol in College Students

On college campuses across America, the use of alcohol has been an topic in need of explanation for many years. The concept will be explaned with emphise on the negative effects of hooch. Alcohol in cardio-sport athletes is especially harmful. But at any rate the negative concepts apply to all student. Besides the fact that a large number of students are underage when they drink, alcohol can put students in dangerous situations and give them a headache long after the hangover is gone. The short and long term effects alcohol has can impair students physically and mentally, impacting their education and health.

In order to explain how alcohol can fully affect university students, the source of the issue must first be considered. Intoxication is, “when the quantity of alcohol the person consumes exceeds the individual’s tolerance for alcohol and produces behavioral or physical abnormalities. In other words, the person’s mental and physical abilities are impaired” (“Alcohol”). Ethanol is a certain type of depressant alcohol that is responsible for these abnormalities. Depressants give the feeling of intoxication because they restrain the brain’s ability to communicate with the rest of the body.

The intensity of the effects varies from person to person and depends on the amount of alcohol that is absorbed into the bloodstream. For example, if a person has a few drinks, ethanol can make him or her more sociable, increase confidence, or slightly decrease concentration and coordination. While drinking, the logical thought process can become disrupted without much notice, leading to unintended situations. At parties on university campuses, drinking games are a way for students to leisurely interact while usually drinking more than they normally would.

Although the objective of most students during these games may be harmless, there some students that have a hidden agenda. Thomas J. Johnson reports in a current article that “Drinking games are a popular context for college student drinking and appear to be strongly associated with incidents of sexual victimization” (304). He goes on to note, “As many as 80% of students may participate in a drinking game at some point during their college career” (304). It is clear that sexual aggression is an issue that affects every college student, whether he or she is drinking or not.

Due to the heightened sexual aggression associated with intoxication, certain levels of alcohol in the body can increase the possibility of an unwanted encounter. Most students see drinking games as a social situation to relax and possibly meet some people, so most people do not expect to be a sexual victim: some men and women use drinking games as a format for demonstrating interest in a potential romantic partner. Both men and women reported relatively high frequencies of having been told that someone else was trying to get them drunk during a game in order to have sex.

In many drinking games, players can identify another player and make that player drink. That targeting of another person by making them drink may sometimes not be intended to incapacitate that person, but merely be a (perhaps dangerous) way of getting someone’s attention. (304) As with most acts of physical hostility, men tend to be the ones who target women as partners. Johnson further states that “In women, the drinking-game-related incidents accounted for 90% of the variance in overall incidents of being taken advantage of sexually that were associated with alcohol use” (304).

Drinking games do not always have to have a sexual price though. Johnson reports that “Students, especially women, appear to drink more when playing drinking games than they would in other typical drinking contexts” (304). With or without games, drinking can get out of hand. When intoxication levels eventually reach beyond what the body can tolerate, serious injury or death can occur. Most students have not drunk before coming to college, so they have a low tolerance to alcohol as well as little experience in knowing when they have had enough to drink.

Dangerous concentrations of ethanol can reduce feeling, increase belligerence, and create confusion. All of these can lead to life-threatening injuries due to fights, falls, or random acts of violence. According to James C. Turner’s report, “Injuries are more common than other medical problems among general patients treated for alcohol-related conditions in the emergency room” (179). In a medical study at a large university, Turner notes, “Of all emergency visits, 13% were alcohol related Injuries accounted for 53% of all visits, and acute intoxication accounted for 34%” (179).

Any higher intoxication interrupts vital signals that control respiration and heart rate. If the internal relaxation becomes too critical, comatose or death can occur. A more common fatality from drinking is alcohol poisoning, caused by the ingestion of large amounts of ethanol. An intoxicated person using any sort of machinery such as a car is perhaps the most dangerous of all situations. Although it may not be as serious as death, alcohol can harm an education which is more relevant to a student.

Drinking affects college students’ study hours, grades, and even major choice. The most apparent effect of drinking is the loss of study time. Amy M. Wolaver sated, “More frequent use of alcohol usually produces larger negative effects on study hoursheavy drinking is predicted to reduce usual study hours from between 20 minutes per day to an implausibly high estimate of 4 hours per day” (415). With a college student’s study hours and grade point average being directly related, it is no wonder why drinking can impact grades so significantly.

As Amy M. Wolaver also noted in her research, “common self-reported problems are missing classes and falling behind in school work as a result of occasional and frequent binge drinking”(415). When people begin to suffer in their classes because of heavy drinking they could try to make up for it by resorting to more desperate methods. Bichler found that “Low self-control had a stronger correlation with students’ cheating behaviors for those who were heavy binge drinkers” (735).

Students who do not drink are not safe from the perils of heavy drinking due to secondhand effects. Langley writes, “One survey about drinking among college students has found that secondhand effects including interruptions to study or sleep, having to take care of a drunk student, and being insulted or humiliated–were common” (1032). Other factors that influence a student’s education are more direct effects such as memory. Small amounts of alcohol can increase memory skills, but any more can have the exact opposite result.

Wolaver states, “moderate to heavy drinking has negative impacts, both during the period of intoxication and for periods of time after consumption. Drinking may therefore have direct effects on the brain and cognitive ability” (415). Whether it is due to low grades, loss of time, or merely a change in interests, Wolaver insists that “Students who drink heavily are more likely to choose a social science or business major and less likely to choose education, engineering, and natural science majors” (415).

It is conceivable that students who are not able to keep up with accelerated majors because of drinking must switch to an easier curriculum. All of these facts show that drinking in college has the ability to alter ones entire educational (and athletic in some cases) career. Drinking to the point of intoxication puts students at high risk of serious injury or lead it can to unintended sexual situations. Alcohol can be very powerful, so as long as it is used responsibly, its effects can be beneficial.

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