Why do College Students Drunk so Much
Previous research has shown that college students tend to put too much alcohol into what is considered a "drink," likely leading to inaccuracies in self-reported consumption, which is a mainstay of surveys on college drinking.
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Although we think of college as a time when young adults experiment with alcohol, the college years are rarely the first time students have faced decisions about alcohol. According to the nationally representative , in 2012, 42 percent of high school seniors reported having had alcohol (more than just a few sips) within 30 days prior to the survey, and 24 percent reported binge drinking within the previous two weeks. Moreover, 91 percent of seniors said that it would be fairly easy or very easy for them to obtain alcohol.
This suggests that college students, and perhaps other groups, may underreport the amount of alcohol they consume, but that education about the definition of 'a drink' can improve the accuracy of self-reported drinking.""If we tell students that binge drinking - four drinks for females and five for males at a time - is dangerous and we want them to stay under this limit, then we absolutely must do a better job of teaching them what a drink is," added White.
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However, it's important to keep in mind that many young people consider college drinking normal and temporary. Consequently, we can't accurately predict significant increases or decreases in binge drinking during the college years and beyond. Even dangerous levels of drinking during the college years do not always indicate a long-term problem with alcohol use. In fact, we cannot predict problems with alcohol in adulthood from one's peak level of binge drinking during college (Schulenberg et al., 2001).
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Young adults are thinking about how others perceive them. It may be that students acquire ideas (from media and through social norms) that drinking moderate to large amounts in college will make them more fun and exciting to their peers. Adults and students alike participate in behaviors that they have the most positive attitudes towards (Lange et al., 2002). In college there is often support from peers for drinking; and the more a student perceives others as drinking heavily or approving of heavy alcohol use, the more likely a student is to drink heavily (Bosari & Carey, 2001). Fortunately college is also a time when young people start to think about the consequences of alcohol use (Korn & Maggs, 2004), and they become better able to make responsible decisions.
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The transition to college requires major changes in every aspect of a student's life. Students are looking for new friends who will provide support and intimacy, and they are working to develop their identity as college students (Bosari & Carey, 2001). It can be helpful to consider alcohol use and heavy drinking in relation to the developmental stages young adults are encountering (Schulenberg & Maggs, 2002). Certainly, there are variations in how different students react to the changes they face and their methods of coping, but some increases during college are part of developmental stages that potentially could be viewed as serving some positive purposes along with negative ones (Schulenberg et al., 2001).
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In some cases, students arrive at the University with drinking problems that have reached the level of addiction. Parents are often unaware of the drinking habits their student has developed, and the University has no way of screening for alcohol use during the college admissions process. Nevertheless, we know we will be working with some freshmen every year who have long-standing patterns of drinking.