Effects of drinking in College Students


Research shows that drinking among college students continues to be an issue of concern. While students consider the behaviour as part of experiencing school life, there are various negative effects that drinking has on college students including poor academic grades, poor health, and social issues. This paper seeks to answer the question, ‘what are the effects of drinking in college students?’ The paper discusses the effects of drinking alcohol on college students and provides recommendations to avoid engaging in the unhealthy practice.


Researchers cite alcohol as the most abused substance in colleges. College drinking is currently a ritual that students take as an integral part of the experience in higher education. A majority of students join schools having not indulged in alcohol drinking but end up being influenced by the unhealthy behaviour. College drinking has negative effects on students including declining academic performance, physical and sexual assault, health problems, increased risk of injuries, and students’ engagement in criminal activities which expose them to legal measures. Apart from damaging one-self, drinkers expose their peers, family members, and the public at risk of being assaulted of damaging their properties. To avoid indulging in the practice students should avoid socializing in bars, avoid drinking emotions, and avoid drinkers. Alcohol drinking has negative consequences on college students including declining academic performance, deteriorating health, and facing legal problems due to criminal activities.

Literature Review

According to Powers Lauren alcohol consumption affects the academic performance of college students. College drinking is associated with social and criminal issues, and poor performance in academics. Two thirds of college students admit to drinking alcohol. Apart from higher rates of death related to alcohol consumption among college students, they also experience other negative effects including sexual assault, hangovers, academic problems, and health issues. Research indicates that alcohol consumption affects the functioning of memory irrespective of the amount taken. The study found that there is a negative relationship between the amount of alcohol consumed and the number of words one recalls. Therefore, heavy consumption of alcohol affects students’ performance as it interferes with their memory (Powers 2).

Gilbert Jennifer found that consumption of alcohol affects academic achievement. The study found that there is an association between poor academics and heavy college drinking. Students under influence of alcohol reported missing classes, study interruptions, and being unable to execute daily activities. Students under heavy episodic drinking reported decreased academic performance. The author concludes that drinking college students have a low academic motivation related to poor grades. While academic performance is essential in the life after post-graduate, drinking behavior affects it. Increasing academic motivation rather than teaching students on effects of alcohol will help students to maximize academic success (Gilbert 37).

Past research indicates that there is a prevalence of use of alcohol among students. The research has found that many college students take alcohol. While some students manage academic work effectively while still under alcohol influence, others are unable to. Apart from having decreased grades, alcohol has caused a majority of students to drop out of school affecting family relations (Jairus et al. 69). The authors argue that alcohol consumption has negative effects on academic performance and on health.

According to Engs and Aldo-Benson (728), alcoholic consumption increases infectious diseases and other health problems. Clinical evidence shows that there is increased risks of infectious diseases with alcohol drinking. For instance, research shows that chronic alcoholics have an increased risk of bacterial pneumonia. The behaviour is also associated with tuberculosis as it suppresses the immune system. Among college students on alcohol, sexually transmitted diseases, streptococcal infections, urinary tract, and upper respiratory infections are reported. In the United States approximately 20% students are into heavy drinking.

Effects of college alcohol drinking

Academic problems

Approximately, one in four college students admits to alcohol influence in missing class, failing exams, and achieving lower grades. A national survey on college students showed that binge drinkers consuming alcohol thrice a week are six times more likely to poor in academics than drinkers who drink but don’t binge (Singleton et al. 363). Binge drinking is a drinking patter which leads to o.o8 grams per decilitre alcohol content in the blood. Binge drinkers experience hangovers that bring about poor academic performance. Estimates indicate that 25% of college students fail to realize their academic potential due to alcohol abuse. 64% of binge drinkers report failing to attend class due to alcohol compared to 7% of their colleagues. The drinkers prioritize drinking over studying for exams, completing homework, and even attending classes (Coyman 5). Memory loss and blackouts induced by alcohol is a common issue with alcoholics. Memory plays an important part in remembering what one read. When alcohol leads to its loss, then a student cannot remember what was taught and ends up failing exams leading to poor grades (Alcohol Rehab Guide 3).

A national College Alcohol Survey found 27% of drinking students report that they experienced memory loss due to alcohol in the past one year. The majority reported having black out weekly. In the United States, 58% of the college students on full time basis between the age of 18 and 22 took alcohol in the past month compared to 48.25% of other people in the same age bracket (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 4). 12.5% of college students in the same age reported heavy drinking compared to 8.5% of non-students in the same age. This proves that college students are into drinking despite the negative effects the behaviour has on academics. Failing a class may costs dollars to change majors or retake a course. A student also takes a lot of time to complete a program.


Alcohol makes one vulnerable as it lowers one’s inhibitions. Approximately 97,000 college students in the U.S report sexual assault and date rapes related to alcohol. Sexual assaults perpetrators aim at victims who are drunk. Mostly the victims are incoherent to fight back and pass out before they know what just happened. Apart from having unwanted pregnancies, sexual assaults expose one to sexually transmitted diseases, and psychological damage. Empirical research has greatly focussed on rape victimization and high rate of sexual coercion especially among female students. The research found that much of the victimization is linked to alcohol use of the victim. Many female students report being taken advantage of when they are drunk. Research shows that even males students are sexually assaulted when they are drunk. Apart from sexual assault, drunk college students experience or execute physical assaults. In the U.S more than 696,000 students are assaulted by another student under the influence of alcohol.

Developing healthy issues

Alcohol drinkers experience short-term illnesses such as nausea, vomiting, and hangovers, the majority of college students on alcohol experience these conditions. While these illnesses recover after sometime, there are long-term effects on health related to alcohol. The major effect is reduced resistance to diseases. Immune systems of heavy drinkers get weak with time making it hard to resist diseases. This exposes drinkers to increased health risks. Around 150,000 college students develop health issues related to alcohol yearly including diseases such a s pancreas inflammation, high blood pressure, lover damage among others.

College students who take alcohol frequently are at a higher risk of developing alcohol dependence later in their life. This results in alcoholism, a mental health issue that sometimes leads to suicide. Some studies have proven that alcohol misuse affects mental stability resulting in extreme effects such as committing suicide. Many college drinkers report having suicidal thoughts and others attempted suicide. Other cases of students who have committed suicide have been reported. 20% of college students are diagnosed with alcohol use disorder (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 6), a mental problem, whose symptoms include strong drinking urge, challenges while trying to quit alcohol, being unable to undertake daily chores, and giving up other activities for alcohol consumption among other.

Risky of injuries and self-harm

Drinking alcohol exposes one to increased risk of injury. It could be minor cuts or broken bones. The higher the alcohol content in blood the higher the chances of getting injured. Research shows that more than 600,000 college students injure themselves unintentionally every year under the influence of alcohol. More than 1825 college students die from car crashes and other injuries related to alcohol consumption. Unprotected sexual activities increase the risk of STDs (National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism 3). Research shows that a majority of college students tend to engage in unprotected sex while under the influence of alcohol. A study conducted in New York, found that more than quarter of college students engages in unprotected sex due to drinking. Heavy episodic drinkers are more likely to engage in unprotected sex than their peers. This increases their risk of contracting the many diseases that are transmitted sexually harming themselves.

Engaging in criminal activities

Alcohol influence drives drinkers to act abnormally. This involves acting in a manner that one would not act while sober. College students who are highly intoxicated engage in damaging of properties, vandalism, illegal driving among others. Other harmful activities include homicide, kidnapping, and battery. Majority of students with access to cars drive under the influence of alcohol. According to National Survey data, one third of college students drive under alcohol influence in an academic year. Such misconducts result in disciplinary measures such as arrests and prosecutions. A study shows that 5 to 12% of college students report having trouble with authority related to alcohol abuse.

While some students are arrested for driving while drunk others are arrested and persecuted for assaulting their peers, family members or passer-by. The legal punishments include probation, jail time, fines, and suspended licence (Perkins 110). If the criminal activities are undertaken in school environment such as assaulting other students sexually or physically, damaging school’s properties, or vandalism, the institution takes measures against the student which includes suspending the student, demanding payment of the damages, or reporting a student to the police for legal actions. This does not only destroy the reputation of a student, but also puts a student at an increased risk of dropping out of the system. Research shows that majority of students found guilty of committing criminal activities perform poor academically doe to missed classes or end up dropping out of school.


The following recommendations will help college students to avoid indulging into the unhealthy behaviour of drinking alcohol.

Avoid drinking emotions

When faced with difficult times, like difficult subjects, family disagreement, peer relationship issues, or challenging exams, students should seek other alternatives other than turning to alcohol which is a depressant. Similarly, positive emotions should not be expressed by drinking alcohol. Considering healthier ways such as engaging in sports is a better way.

Avoid drinking points

Instead of socializing in bars, college students should consider other places that don’t sell alcohol. Going to watch movies or listening to music will not avail alcohol reducing the chance of drinking it. It is hard to overcome the temptation of alcohol in bars. Therefore, avoiding them is better.

Avoid drinkers

Peer influence is one of the major elements that introduce college students to alcohol drinking. Peers always manage to influence one’s behaviour. Socializing with drinkers definitely encourages one drink alcohol (Iconis 244). However, avoiding them and hanging out with non-drinkers supports a source of support for those wishing to quit alcohol or those trying to avoid it. Many college students admit having been introduced to alcohol by their friends already into drinking. Therefore avoiding then altogether prevents one from indulging in the unhealthy behaviour.


It is clear that drinking alcohol has negative effects on college students including poor academic performance, deteriorating health, engaging in criminal activities, and engaging or being exposed to physical or sexual assault. While many students continue to drink as part of school experience, it is important to note that, alcohol has more negative effects than positive. Every student wished to excel in their academics, drinking alcohol is however a barrier to realize such dreams. It is therefore important to avoid alcohol or quit it to avoid its negative effects. This will not only improve academic performance, but also improve personal healthy, and prevent legal problems associated with criminal activities or assaults. The following recommendations are useful in staying away from alcohol drinking; avoid socializing in bars, using healthy means too deal with positive and negative emotions, and socializing with non-drinkers.

Work Cited

Alcohol Rehab Guide, ‘College Alcoholism’ Alcohol Rehab Guide, 2018, Accessed on 1st March 2018 from https://www.alcoholrehabguide.org/resources/college-alcohol- abuse/

Coyman, Jill, ‘The Effects of Alcohol Use on Academic Performance among College Students, n.d, pp. 1-10.

Gilbert, Jennifer, ‘The Effects of Drinking on University Grades: Does Academic Motivation Play a Role?’ Undergraduate Honors Theses. Paper 7, 2014, pp. 1-37.

Iconis, RoseMary, ‘Understanding Alcohol Abuse among College Students: Contributing Factors and Strategies for Intervention’ Contemporary Issues in Education Research, 2014, Vol. 7 no. 3, pp. 243-245.

Jairus, Enyi, Vanen, Kpurkpur, Ode, Francis, Jerry, Omenka, and Terlumun, Jato, ‘Effect of Alcohol Consumption on Students’ Academic Performance in Tertiary Institution (A Case Study of College of Education, Oju)’ International Journal of Science and Research Methodology, 2017, Vol. 6 no. 2.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, ‘Alcohol Facts and Statistics, National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2017. Accessed on 1st March 2018 from https://www.niaaa.nih.gov/alcohol-health/overview-alcohol-consumption/alcohol-facts-and-statistics

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, ‘College Drinking’ National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 2015, pp.1-4.

Perkins, Wesley, H., ‘Surveying the Damage: A Review of Research on Consequences of Alcohol Misuse in College Populations’ Journal of studies on alcohol, 2002, no.14, pp. 91-139.

Powers, Lauren, ‘Effect of Alcohol Consumption on College Student’s Academic Performance’ Proceedings of The National Conference on Undergraduate Research, 2014, pp.1-10.

Singleton, Royce A. and Amy, Wolfston, “Alcohol Consumption, Sleep, and Academic Performance among College Students.” Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2009, Vol.70 no.3, pp. 355-363.