While an estimated 85-95% of college students routinely consume alcohol, an estimated 20-25% have problems related to drinking that negatively affect their lives.
As a legal drug, alcohol is frequently abused on college campuses. Many people state that they "know their limit" and "can handle it" - unfortunately, the line between simple alcohol use and abuse is very fine.
How do I tell whether I (or a friend) may have a problem with alcohol?
- Changes in drinking behavior
- Reasons for drinking
- Impact of drinking on relationships, studies and goals
- Other family members' relationship with alcohol and other drugs (there is often a genetic component in problem drinking and alcoholism)
A general list of drinking habits has been compiled by the American College Health Association. The following list, while not all inclusive, can give you some general guidelines.
A social drinker typically:
- Drinks slowly (no fast gulping)
- Knows when to stop drinking
- Does not drink to get drunk
- Eats before or while drinking
- Respects non-drinkers
- Never drinks and drives
A problem drinker typically:
- Drinks to get drunk
- Tries to solve, avoid/escape problems by drinking
- Experiences personality changes. May become loud, violent and angry or silent, remote and reclusive
- Drinks when he/she should not
- Plans the day/week around drinking. Drinking becomes a priority.
- Causes other problems or harms him/herself or family, friends and others
- Spends time thinking about drinking and planning where and when to get the next drink
- Often drinks alone
- Denies drinking problems
- Starts drinking without conscious planning and loses awareness of the amount consumed
- Needs to drink before facing a stressful situation
- May have blackouts
- Goes from having hangovers to more dangerous withdrawal symptoms
- Has or causes major problems with police, an employer, family or friends
Remember, both problem drinkers and alcoholics need assistance. If you have concerns regarding your involvement with alcohol or are concerned about a friend, there are many places to get support and information.