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Tuesday, October 3, 2023


Healthy advice: drinking and studying do not mix

Sometimes what starts out as grabbing a drink or two with friends culminates into throwing up in the parking lot, then waking up to wonder why you smell like rotten eggs and where your shoes went.

David Delgado | The Daily Cougar

David Delgado | The Daily Cougar

We live in a culture saturated by the concept that heavy drinking, getting drunk even, is acceptable. Many a person may watch their diet and exercise regularly, but have no problem with heavy drinking. They have no problem downing six beers during a football game, yet balk at eating six slices of cheesecake.

College presents a unique situation in that we grow up thinking college is for parties, which mean lots of alcohol. The idea that turning 21 is the alcoholic rite of passage is archaic.

More often people consider their alcoholic rite of passage to be when they have their first drink, either at a party in high school, prom night or at a fraternity or sorority party — being legal is trivial in nature.

The Southern Illinois University at Carbondale’s Core Institute released a survey in May 2010 to measure student alcohol and drug abuse nationwide. The survey found 83.9 percent of college students consumed alcohol in a 12-month period, and 65.7 percent of students under the age of 21 had a drink within 30 days of the survey.

Several factors contribute to heavy drinking among college students. Clayton Neighbors, director of the Social Influences and Health Behaviors Lab at UH, lists some common factors leading to alcohol abuse by college students — factors such as drinking for social reasons, being affiliated with the Greek system and drinking in order to cope with stress.

Another common factor leading to heavy drinking is misperception about the average number of drinks consumed by others. The University of Iowa’s Center for Research on Undergraduate Education released a report in 2007 that used several different surveys, including the Core survey, and found students with an A average consume approximately 3.3 drinks per week; those with a D or F average consume approximately nine drinks per week.

The SIHB Lab found when students are asked what they think the average drinking rate on campus is, those who were heavier drinkers responded with an average of 10-12 drinks per week; the SIHB Lab says the average level of alcohol consumption by students at UH is three drinks per week.

This disparity between how much people assume others drink and how much others actually drink can be an effective tool in helping others discontinue their unhealthy drinking habits.

“Most empiric evidence suggests that providing personal feedback to students is the most effective method of preventing further excessive drinking,” Neighbors said. “You can’t just tell them, ‘Don’t drink that much.’ That doesn’t work at all.”

Heavy drinking is abundant in events associated with the Greek system. While the concept of “fraternities and sororities equals drinking” may be a sterotype, there is some truth to it. The Core survey found 86 percent of students affiliated with the Greek system had consumed alcohol at least once in the past 30 days.

The Core survey found that around 75 percent of respondents believe alcohol breaks the ice and around 63 percent said it allows them to have more fun.

Neighbors said studies testing the effects of alcohol on inhibition demonstrated that people who were given a placebo with alcohol laced around the rim of a glass felt as uninhibited as those who had consumed alcohol.

Often times, heavy drinkers view their drinking as part of their identity. A prime example would be a student who includes many alcohol related posts on their Facebook page. Neighbors said there exists a strong correlation between the number of posts about alcohol on Facebook and the number of drinks the poster consumes. Because Facebook enables people to choose what aspects of themselves they would like to present to others, those who post about alcohol tend to want others to see them as drinkers.

If you suspect you’re drinking more than you should, or you’re drinking for the wrong reasons, feel free to take a trip to the Campus Recreation and Wellness Center. In 2009, UH won the National Association of State Alcohol and Drug Directors/National Prevention Network’s National Exemplary Award for Innovative Substance Abuse Prevention Programs, Practices and Policies. If not the Recreation Center, contact your healthcare provider. Also, students should be on the lookout for information regarding the Social Norms and Alcohol Prevention study. If eligible, answering three surveys will net you $75.

Trisha Thacker is a biology junior and may be reached at [email protected].

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