School can be an exciting and interesting time for many students. Drinking alcohol can provide a fun outlet during parties and kickbacks. That said, mixing the two activities spells disaster for those getting schooled by both demanding curriculums and busy social schedules. Learning how alcohol impacts a young person’s mental and physical health is critical for using this substance in moderation while still excelling in academics.
Dr. Ginny Schwartz, former coordinator of academic support at St. Lawrence University, cautions college students about drinking excessively at night and then heading to class the day.
“Heavy drinking by students can lead to positive blood alcohol levels the next day, affecting whether or not they even get up for class and, if they do, the quality of how information is processed and ultimately stored,” Dr. Schwartz notes on the university’s academic support webpage.
Hangovers can lead to irritability and anxiety as well, according to Dr. Schwartz.
High school students are also affected by alcohol consumption. A study by Ana Balsa, a research professor from the Center for Applied Research on Poverty, Family and Education in Uruguay, found a noticeable impact on the GPA of high school males compared to their chronically sober classmates. Females, while they did not have the same GPA discrepancy, still face difficulties in academic settings. Balsa and her cohorts found the self-reporting of these grades led to bias, as the females inflated their grades in reporting while the males deflated their own.
They used data from the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health and GPAs taken from official school records and self-reporting to find their results.
Balsa is far from the only researcher to take a notice of this subject. The Center for Disease Control has broken down the grades of students who have or had used alcohol to various degrees. Those with D’s or F’s comprised the demographic most likely to have ever drank, currently drink or even binge drink. The most striking discrepancy presented between those who drank for the first time before the age of 13 and those who have not. D’s and F’s occurred for 41 percent of those young drinking cases, while only 14 percent of high achieving students did the same.
Taking those drinking habits into the college scene and beyond has led to violent and deadly consequences. The Florida Institute of Technology (FIT) has found drug and alcohol abuse to be the leading cause of death for people between the ages of 15 and 24. Almost just as alarming is 95 percent of all violence on college campuses relates to alcohol in some way.
The FIT staff theorize drinking in college is a byproduct of peer pressure, escapism and desires to feel more socially open with others. While alcohol can be great in small doses as a “social lubricant,” some drinkers can struggle to stop when appropriate or use the alcohol as crutch instead of developing social skills in a healthy, lasting way.
These goals likely shouldn’t obscure the ultimate goal of college: education and preparing for the rest of a life in love and learning. If drinking every day, feeling guilty and intense defensiveness when confronted with the alcohol use sound like familiar parts of life, it is likely the goals of education, social life and other pursuits are falling to the wayside. At this point, it is time to seek help for this potentially deadly problem.
Having difficulty balancing alcohol with other parts of life is one of the signs of alcohol addiction. Dealing with this monstrous disease can be difficult to do alone. This is why the Texas Alcohol Addiction Helpline is a great resource for people striving to enter recovery. Call us at 855-982-2401 today to find an addiction treatment specialist ready to help.