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Alcohol Abuse on College Campuses

College life in America is often synonymous with weekend parties and alcohol. Many college students find it difficult to abstain from alcohol during social events when friends are also drinking. The college years can be even more challenging for those who have grown dependent on alcohol.

On average, 10.8 million individuals between 12 and 20 years old report drinking alcohol in any given month.1

In one study, almost 18.8 percent of students admitted to binge drinking and six percent to drinking heavily.2 A quarter of college students claim they have performed poorly on schoolwork due to alcohol, but that figure jumps to 50 percent for students who are affiliated with a fraternity or sorority.3

College is a fun time in life, but it can also be a stressful time. Students attempt to balance all the obligations on their plates with exams and school projects, sustain good grades, participate in extracurricular activities and maintain a social life. It’s easy to want to let loose on the weekend, or even a weeknight, with this kind of schedule, but letting loose doesn’t have to mean going too far. Each year, about 20 percent of freshmen drop out of school, and officials say substance abuse is a factor for some.4

Sobriety Supportive Resources for Students

25% of college students perform poorly due to alcohol and 50% in fraternity or sororities.A number of college campuses across America offer specific resources to students who struggle with substance abuse and addiction. A 2005 survey of American undergraduate students showed that 84 percent of them were past-year drinkers.5 Students do have a need for supportive recovery and active sober groups that offer alternatives to a drinking lifestyle.

Many college campuses across the United States work with local chapters of Alcoholics Anonymous and have brought meetings on campus for those who battle substance abuse. For instance, Penn State boasts its own Collegiate Recovery Community that is geared toward encouraging sobriety and helping those with dependency issues stay clean.6

The school offers the following four types of meetings on its University Park main campus:

  • On-campus weekday AA meetings
  • Yoga and meditation for those in recovery and their loved ones
  • Weekend AA meetings
  • Adult Children of Alcoholics meetings

The very best way to recover from an addiction is through the use of a comprehensive rehab program. A clear assessment of the situation, along with integrated treatment, a supportive environment, and counseling can all be found within a reputable recovery program.

There are other resources for students who are concerned about problematic drinking. Some of these alternatives include:

Abstinence Rates In Students

  • Moderation Management: Moderation management isn’t advisable for those who suffer from alcoholism as it merely aims for a reduction in drinking most of the time. Abstinence rates in one self-reported study utilizing moderation management techniques increased from 16 percent to 20 percent over the course of quarterly follow-ups spanning the length of a year’s time.8
  • Rational Recovery: Rational recovery is a self-help based approach aimed at total abstinence, while SMART Recovery works on maintaining abstinence after recovery begins. Many of these groups offer online support groups and software-based educational materials to boost the addicted person’s chance of success following their treatment plans.
  • Other On-campus Recovery Groups:A reported 10 percent of members belonging to Alcoholics Anonymous are under the age of 30, and many are college students.7 There are often many students on campus who would like to drink less and participate in non-drinking activities.By June 2014, more than 135 programs to deter or treat substance were in operation on campuses across the nation.9 That number is expected to grow quickly.
>>> READ THIS NEXT:Start with Detox

Rules and Regulations About Drinking in College

Collegiate recovery programs have a lot of benefits being on college campuses. Here is a student snapshot of a study on the characteristics of students participating in college recovery programs. CRP's are an innovative campus-based model consisting of recovery-friendly supportive social communities developing educational opportunities, while also supporting the recovery and emotional growth of the student.

Some campuses impose strict rules and regulations for the possession and use of drugs or alcohol. For instance, The University of California at Berkeley has consequences for alcohol-related incidents posted on the school’s website.

These consequences include several actions on top of informing school officials and coaches, such as mandated counseling, harm-reduction practices, and suspension from school.12 Other institutions have banned some types of booze altogether, such as Dartmouth, which no longer allows hard liquor.13

It’s important to understand just how many college students are affected by alcohol abuse and alcohol-related issues.

Who Can Benefit from Recovery?

hazing plays an important role in binge drinking in college students. despite anti-hazing laws, hazing practices still occur in certain greek life activities. This most often happens during pledging semesters in college activities. in 2011, a university greek chapters hazing activities went over the line by involuntary manslaughter when a student died by being force to drink until they passed out.Every person’s drinking habits vary. It’s important to know the signs and symptoms of alcohol use disorder, including binge drinking and alcoholism. If you are aware of the danger signs, you may be able to save a life.

The signs of alcohol dependence include:

  • You’ve set drinking limits for yourself but keep surpassing them.
  • You have every desire to stop drinking, but you don’t feel like you can do it.
  • You stopped doing things you used to enjoy to drink instead.
  • If you aren’t drinking, you’re thinking about drinking.
  • Although your alcohol abuse has only caused you problems, you keep drinking.14

Some people aren’t merely in over their heads with alcohol, but they also have another disorder complicating their life. Mental illness affects some 46 million people in the United States. Around one-third of these individuals also have a problem with substance abuse.15

Popular beer manufacturers and the liquor industry will always bend the rules to finesse catering to a younger demographic, and colleges will always be a stomping ground for substance abuse. The best way to combat these measures is with a strong education to our nation’s youth on what moderate alcohol use is and the dangers of abusing any substance. Often, that education begins at home.

If a college student in your life struggles with substance use, we can help.Our experienced recovery professionals are here to answer your questions about treatment. Find out how Skywood can help you and your loved ones recover from problem drinking.


1Binge Drinking on College Campuses.” Center for Science in the Public Interest. (n.d.) Accessed June 19, 2015.

2 Ibid.

3 Grunner, M. “15 Revealing Stats on the Current State of Greek Life.” Elite Daily. 24 October 2012. Accessed June 19, 2015.

4 Helliker, K. “Campus Life 101: Staying Sober.” Wall Street Journal. 10 August 2011. Accessed 19 June 2017.

5 Perron, B.E., Grahovac, I.D., “Supporting Students in Recovery on College Campuses: Opportunities for Student Affairs Professionals.” University of Michigan. 2011. Accessed 19 June 2017.

6Collegiate Recovery Community announces four recovery-related meetings.” 26 Jan 2011. Pennsylvania State University. Accessed 19 June 2017.

7Young People and A.A.Alcoholics Anonymous. 2017. Accessed 19 June 2017.

8 Jaffe, A. (2011 Mar 9). “Abstinence is Not the Only Option.” Psychology Today Accessed 19 June 2017.

9 Kingkade, T. (2015 May 28). “How Texas College Students are Using Yoga and Tailgating to Stay Sober.” Huffington Post Accessed June 19, 2015.

10 “Local AA and NA Meetings.” (n.d.). Boston College. Accessed 19 June 2017.

11Alcohol on Campus.” (n.d.). UC Berkeley. Accessed 19 June 2017.

12 Sanburn, J. “Dartmouth Bans Hard Alcohol on Campus for All.” TIME Magazine. 29 Jan 2015. Accessed 19 June 2017.

13 “Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.” (n.d.). Helpguide. Accessed 19 June 2017.

14 Brown, D. (2012 Jan 19). “Government survey finds that 5 percent of Americans suffer from a ‘serious mental illness’.” Washington Post. Accessed 19 June 2017.