The Harsh Reality of College Drinking

The Harsh Reality of College Drinking

October 08, 2013
by Michael Barber
The Harsh Reality of College Drinking

When kids head off to college, 21 or not, they will be exposed to alcohol, perhaps more than ever before. There are risks for college-age students that indulge, but how bad is collegiate drinking anyway and what sort of injuries are they exposed to?

Statistics for College Drinking

According to, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) says "About half of college student drinkers engage in heavy episodic consumption." This means they are drinking up to four or five drinks in a row at least once during a two-week period.

Another scary statistic, according to the NIAAA, is that our college campuses house approximately "21.6 million Americans" and if just half of those indulge in binge drinking, that exceeds the population of NYC. Drinking is a definite problem for college students and with this drinking comes the possibility of injuries. When these injuries occur, students often find themselves in need immediate urgent care.

Assault Injuries

Because the NIAAA says binge drinking affects judgment, decision-making, memory and information processing, an intoxicated student is more apt to assault another student, or be assaulted. Common injuries range from the minor scrapes and cuts from fighting to the severe, when weapons are involved.

A knife stab wound or gunshot wound does required emergency medical attention from walk-in clinics or hospital emergency rooms. Almost 700,000 students per year are assaulted by intoxicated students.

Sexual Abuse

With the loss of judgment and smart decision-making, sexual abuse runs rampant on college and university campuses. Again, the NIAAA report almost 100,000 students are sexually assaulted due to those who drink heavily.

A big challenge is the problem of date rape. Many students who are attacked don't report these assaults because of lack of memory from being drugged, they are too scared to pursue the aggressor, or they blame themselves for the assault.

Alcohol Poisoning

Alcohol poisoning is a real problem and while some students may never experience it, others will. It's hard to say who will be affected but poisoning usually depends on the amount of alcohol consumed and body weight. According to College Drinking Prevention, symptoms of alcohol poisoning include:

  • Vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Mental confusion,coma, unconsciousness
  • Slowed breathing
  • Hypothermia, blush skin or paleness

Many of today's universities offer students a list of urgent care locations near campuses so immediate medical care can be obtained in the event a friend or party-goer indulges too much.


Up to 1.5 percent of university or college students heavily involved in drinking and drugs admit to thinking about suicide, or have tried to commit suicide. While bullying is a big problem on college campuses, when intoxicated, the mind isn't prepared to think logically or make the correct decisions.

Those who survive suicide attempts are often taken to clinics offering emergency care and then may need extended mental health care. When the mind is unable to process the smart choice or figure out a dilemma, to the intoxicated student, suicide is sometimes considered the only choice.

Most higher-learning organizations do offer tips and support centers to aid and inform students about binge drinking and the injuries that may occur. Before your child heads off to college, you should also talk to them about the temptation of alcohol and its side effects.