College and Alcohol: 12 Reasons to Break the Cycle
College and alcohol too often are synonymous to one another. Most people just assume students will try alcohol during this formative time. Even students who’ve never touched a drop of the stuff up until their Freshman year.
While the practice may be somewhat commonplace, it sets a dangerous tone early in a young adult’s development. And that tone can influence the decisions and outcomes they experience for years to come.
In the following article, we’re going to be covering a dozen reasons college students should give up the alcohol allure before they even begin. And yes, there are more dangers than just alcohol to focus on. We’ll be covering some of those at a later date.
Whatever the drug-of-choice, many of the same rules apply. But first, let’s ask a question.
Why the Alarm?
Is alcohol use really something to be worried about for college students? And is it really as prevalent as the doomsayers let on?
Set aside the fact that many students who start drinking in college build lifelong dependency issues. Even for those who don’t, their poor decision-making with regard to binge-drinking can forever alter or end their lives or the lives of someone they come into contact with (think drinking-and-driving victims).
In fact, a report from the Alcohol Rehab Guide notes that 80 percent of college students who experiment with alcohol and 50 percent of those do it in a binge-drinking capacity. Binge-drinking can cause one to make horrible decisions like getting behind the wheel of an automobile. It can also lead to blood poisoning and other dangerous conditions.
But even without the life-and-death scenarios, there are these outcomes to consider:
1. Poor Grades
It’s not uncommon for bright students to struggle through classes they otherwise would be able to master with little effort. College is not the time to be lackadaisical in your performance. Your grades may influence which graduate school you get into or what a future employer thinks of you as a potential hire. Don’t toss that aside for a night of “fun.”
2. Ruined Opportunities
Drinking too heavily can tarnish your reputation among people in your community. Considering that many graduates stay around the area where they attended school, this can be catastrophic for future professional development. Furthermore, it can ruin valuable internships or fellowships that your college or university might provide.
3. Bad Decisions and Relationships
How many times have you heard the horror stories about people waking up to people they otherwise wouldn’t have touched with a 39-1/2-foot pole (to borrow from Dr. Seuss) all because of the influence of alcohol? But even if it’s not a one-night stand, alcohol can bring the wrong personality types together into relationships that neither one have any business being a part of.
Beyond one’s love life, it may also influence one’s choice in friends. And poor friend choice can lead to a whole host of other issues that aren’t worth your future.
4. Health Issues
Yes, physical health issues are possible when you consume too much alcohol, even at this stage. You could start to hallucinate, forget chunks of your life even as your body goes on making decisions for you. It could also trigger your inner alcoholic, leading to long-term physical, mental, and emotional problems.
5. Long-Term Mental Health Problems
The more you drink, the more your brain cells will start to break down. It becomes far more difficult to process simple decisions, and it can even lead to dementia and other neurological problems.
The Best Reasons to Quit
So now that we’ve discussed the potential outcomes of alcohol use for college students, let’s move onto the reasons you need to quit using it if you are doing so too heavily.
Define too heavily? The RethinkingDrinking group states the following: “Men: More than 4 drinks on any day or 14 per week. Women: More than 3 drinks on any day or 7 per week.”
Of course, no drinks at all is your best bet. But if you do feel compelled to partake, it’s best to stay inside those limits. Now, with that said, here are the reasons or benefits of walking away from it.
1. Improve Your Mental Health
Consuming no alcoholic beverages will sharpen your mind. You’ll be able to grasp concepts and retain knowledge. This will manifest in better performances in class, on tests, and with class projects. It’ll also follow you into your adult life and career of choice.
2. Boost Your Longevity
People who drink less live longer. That’s because they’re not as likely to suffer the same ailments: the effects of alcoholism, diabetes, cancer, heart disease, etc. They’re also less likely to be a part of alcohol-induced tragedies, such as those connected to drinking and driving and other forms of impaired judgment behind the wheel of a motor vehicle.
3. Think Clearer
Your memory will hold up, yes. But you’ll also be clearer on your reasoning for doing certain things.
4. Build a Better Body
Alcoholic beverages are high in calories, and they can quickly eat through any needed calorie deficits for weight loss. Just to give you an idea of how much this addictive beverage can have in it, take red wine. Drinking just a 750-mL bottle on your own — something the binge drinker and alcoholic can do every night — adds about 608 EMPTY calories to your daily diet. That’s not a lot of room left for protein, fiber, and healthy fats.
5. Exercise More Regularly
Alcohol usually kills your will to do a lot of things that make sense for your body and mind. Exercise is just one of those things. And when you pair it with the added empty calories of alcohol, it’s easy to see why alcohol-partaking college students have a tendency to gain weight rapidly.
6. Be a Better Example
You never know who’s watching you. It could be a sibling, a cousin, a younger college or high school student who’s always admired you. Any time you allow alcohol to make you let other people down, it’s not a good feeling. So if you won’t quit for yourself, quit for someone you really care about!
7. Shed Toxic People
Alcoholics tend to confine themselves to other alcoholics. And that creates a vicious cycle that is hard to get out of. It also causes you to be reckless with the decisions that you make for who gets the most of your time. The last thing you want to do, for example, is end up in a committed relationship or marriage with the wrong person just because the Alcohol You thought it was right at the time.
8. Get More from Your Week
Drinking less alcohol tends to have a positive effect on your rest patterns and when you get up each day. It’s a lot easier to awaken early, for example, if you don’t have alcohol in your system. Think about how much more you’d be able to accomplish on both weekdays and weekends if you weren’t having to “sleep one off.”
9. Score Better with Your Finances
Alcohol costs a lot of money. This is especially true when you’re drinking a lot of it. Most college students don’t have the money to drink heavily, so they’ll end up saving what they’ve got, buying a lot at once, and then binging it all in a single evening or two.
This waste of money can beget a waste of livelihood. Add up the last month’s worth of alcohol you bought and consider where that money could have been used to a better and longer-lasting effect. If you’re like us, the wasted dollars will make you sick enough to avoid the bottle for a while.
10. Improve Your Love Game
Refusing to drink helps you to be a more dependable person. It makes you physically more capable. And it improves the likelihood that the person you choose to be with is the right fit over the long term.
11. Seize Opportunities
Not being in a drunken stupor during your college years can open some exciting and unexpected doors. It can connect you to your first career-like job from the moment you step across the platform to collect your degree. It can get you into a premier graduate school. It can qualify you for key internships or paid fellowships that are effective stepping stones on the way to something bigger.
These are opportunities you wouldn’t have available if you were wasting your brain cells on alcohol.
12. Drink More Responsibly
Yes, the final reason to quit drinking so much may seem counter-intuitive but it’s really not. When you don’t over-indulge in something, you have a tendency to be able to use it in a more appropriate manner. Of course, if you suffer from alcoholism, the best thing to do is to stay away from it altogether.
But the rest of you — the ones who might find yourself binging for something to do but otherwise don’t feel the draw of alcohol — will enjoy the artistry of the beverage more. And you’ll appreciate the special occasions when it’s okay to have a drink. The ability to exercise any freedom responsibly is a wonderful gift, and it’s one you couldn’t have if you constantly abused alcohol.
College and Alcohol Do Not Go Together
College and alcohol should be separate from one another. You have too much riding on your future to waste it in a drunken moment. But now it’s your turn, readers. How often do you consume alcohol? What special tricks do you have to keep yourself from overdoing it? Sound off in the comments section below!
[Featured Image by Flickr Creative Commons]