August 3, 2011
Binge Drinking Among College Students
With extreme rates of binge drinking among young adults, college students continue to be a primary focus for a range of alcohol prevention efforts. The rates of binge drinking among college students is nearly double the rates for high school students, which may indicate that the college environment encourages high risk drinking. Many students view heavy drinking as a rite of passage that everyone must go through in life and be looked at as being “cool.” Young adults aged 18-22 enrolled full-time in a college were more likely than their peers not enrolled full time to use alcohol, drink heavily, and binge drink (Cremeens, 1). Half of these binge drinkers who binge drink do so more than once a week. Binge drinking on college campuses has become a recognized activity to do being influences from either other college students or friends, followed by harmful effects on a student’s body even resulting death.
Binge drinking results from a student's submission to peer pressure, the lack of outside control over the student, and the denial that drinking leads to severe consequences. Binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks in a row for men and four or more drinks in a row for women in about two hours. Many students participate in binge drinking to be socially accepted into a group, but other students find it difficult to make the choice to be the sober. Many binge drinkers realize that there is little immediate outside influence to push them away from the alcohol and they abuse their independence (Norman, 2011). Most binge drinkers do not consider themselves to be problem drinkers; which adds to the difficulty in solving this college epidemic. They associate binge drinking with a good time, but many are blind to the harm it causes, such as failing grades and unplanned sexual encounters which may lead to sexually transmitted diseases or unplanned pregnancies. Binge drinking has become an accepted part of the college experience for many students. Although there are other reasons a student may choose to binge drink, the influence of friends, the lack of outside control and the denial of drinking-related problems are the main forces driving the need to consume alcohol to the point of physical harm.
The extreme denial that the alcohol can cause severe problems lies at the root of the college binge drinking crisis. Once students have an established binge drinking habit, they do not want to believe that something that helps them forget their responsibilities could be harmful. In many situations, binge drinking goes undetected because people believe if their friends are engaging in the same drinking habits, they must be acceptable. Women who regularly compare their drinking to men's drinking are more likely to underestimate the severity of their drinking. When young girls start drinking at such an early age, their brain starts developing and it interferes with their brain activation. This can become a problem because it might have negative impacts on concentration and can cause problems when driving, playing sports involving complex moves, using a map or remembering how to get somewhere. Since this has become such a problem on college campuses, many universities have implemented a variety of programs as a means to reduce heavy drinking to try and reduce the misperceptions of college drinking of students.
The theory of Planned Behavior is utilized as a framework for predicting binge drinking among young college students. According to the TPB, the cause of this behavior is due to the individual’s intention to engage in the behavior which is determined by three constructs. First, is the individual’s attitude towards the behavior. Second is the individual’s perception of the social pressure from important others to perform or not perform the behavior. Third is the individual’s perception of the ease or difficulty of...
References: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, (2010). Binge drinking: what can be done? Atlanta, GA: Retrieved from http://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/BingeDrinking/WhatCanBeDone.html
Cremeens, J. L., Usdan, S. L., Brock-Martin, A., Martin, R. J., & Watkins, K. (2008). PARENT-CHILD COMMUNICATION TO REDUCE HEAVY ALCOHOL USE AMONG FIRST-YEAR COLLEGE STUDENTS. College Student Journal, 42(1), 152-163.
Migneault, J.P., Adams, T. B., & Read, J. P. (2005). Application of the transtheoretical model to substance abuse: historical development and future directions. Drug and Alcohol Review, doi: 10.1080/09595230500290866
Norman, P. (2011). The theory of planned behavior and binge drinking among undergraduate students: Assessing the impact of habit strength. Addictive Behaviors, 36(5), 502-507. doi:10.1016/j.addbeh.2011.01.025
Norman, P., & Conner, M. (2006). The theory of planned behavior and binge drinking: assesing the moderating role of past behavior withing the theory of planned behavior. British Journal of Health Psychology, (11), doi: 10. 1348/135910705X43741
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