The all-pervasive party culture of college is no secret—ask any collegiette if she attended a basement bash last semester and the answer will more often than not be yes. Ask that same student, though, to recall the details of one of those parties, and the answer is likely to be much hazier. For many college kids, going to weekend parties is a no-brainer. They’re the perfect way to unwind and destress after a long week of attending classes and slogging through yet another nineteenth century British novel. But what most collegiettes don’t consider when they’re tossing back drink after drink at football pregames or the bar is that these habits that seem fun and harmless in the moment can have potentially permanent consequences—or, without even realizing it, develop into alcoholism. Since drinking can be such an integral, accepted part of the college lifestyle, it can be tricky to tell when your behavior actually qualifies as abuse or dependence. But you don't have to wonder or unknowingly be in danger anymore because we’re giving you the information you need to keep your boozing in check and the resources to turn to if it gets out of control.
Facts & Figures
According to Livestrong, approximately 17.6 million (8.5%) American adults abuse alcohol on a regular basis. Of all college students in the U.S., approximately 45% of students ages 18-24 engage in what can be considered “heavy episodic drinking.” Dr. Richard Saitz, Professor of Medicine and Epidemiology at Boston University, lays down some parameters that constitute excessive alcohol use. “Heavy episodic drinking is five or more [drinks] on any occasion for men, four or more for women.” To define things in more concrete terms, the World Health Organization (WHO) defines alcohol abuse as “the consumption of at least 60 grams (2.1 ounces) of alcohol per day”. How many drinks make up 60 grams? Numbers vary from country to country, but the United States government has decided that the answer is approximately four. Though you’ve probably heard it before in your high school health class, check out the nifty guide below—measured on the ever-present red Solo cup—to determine what counts as one standard drink.
Of course, there are several theories as to why drinking is so pervasive among college students, including familial predisposition and the media—films such as Animal House, The Hangover, and Superbad, songs like Asher Roth’s “I Love College,” and Ludacris’s “Everybody Drunk,” and reality shows like The Jersey Shore all celebrate a boozy lifestyle—but much of the reason comes from peer pressure: “It’s hard to be around my wasted friends while I’m the sober one,” says Ryann*, a rising senior at Wagner College. Diane*, a rising junior at Wagner, says that her friend Ben “blames college culture for promoting dumb behavior. He says that he has no choice but to drink in order to be social and have a good time.” With this, “everyone’s doing it” and “it’s fun” mentality, along with the sheer abundance of alcohol at many parties, it can be hard to pass up another drink.