Booze bad for the brain

College students love to consume alcohol, but heavy drinking can lead to a variety of negative consequences, which may last longer than a hangover.

Alcohol affects the brain function, impairs balance, motor coordination, decision-making and the ability to form lasting memories, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism Web site.

Nevertheless, students continue to guzzle alcohol without considering the side effects it has on their physical and mental condition.

“Freshmen are most effected by the myth that drinking is what college life is all about,” said Allison Lockard, assistant director of clinical programs at the counseling center on campus.
Lockard said that the intake of alcohol is higher at the freshmen level,  but gradually declines as students become involved with campus activities.

One study listed on the NIAAA Web site stated that young adults ages 21 to 29 found that intoxicated study participants could recall items on word lists immediately after the lists were presented, but had greater difficulty recalling the information 20 minutes later.
Interestingly, the effect was much more powerful on the younger subjects in the age group—primarily young adults in their early twenties.

Alcohol intake is a problem for most college campuses, according to the NIAAA. Eighty-three percent of college student’s drink alcohol, however, the origin of the habit begins long before student enrollment.

Alcohol consumption is not a problem that begins at the college level. Research recorded by the NIAAA showed most students have experienced alcohol by the time they enroll in college. The study showed that by the 12th grade, 72 percent of high school students have had a full drink.

Despite the statistics and the research, students continue to drink for personal reasons. Hannah Brooks, 19, a third-year political science student from Chicago, said she doesn’t use drinking as a coping method or peer pressure.

“[I drink alcohol] because it tastes good,” Brooks said. “I drank before I came to school. Being around alcohol didn’t make me uncomfortable because I was already a social drinker.”

Brooks said that being a responsible student plays an important role in staying on task with schoolwork and college life.

“I am a very responsible person,” she said. “My second semester of my freshmen year I drank more and went from a 3.7 to a 4.0 grade point average. My grades have never suffered because I’m a student first,” said Brooks.

Although Brooks was able to maintain a good grade point average, not all students can.
Intoxication is the factor that admits one in three 18-to 24-year-olds to emergency rooms.

And alcohol is also associated with homicides, suicides and drowning, according to

“I don’t have anything against people drinking,” said Krishula Edwards, 20, a third-year political science student from Montgomery, Ala. “I personally don’t drink because of the negative connotations.”

Edwards said drinking is OK as long as it’s done with consideration and in moderation.

According to the Core Institute, an organization that surveys college-drinking practices, 300,000 of today’s college students will eventually die of alcohol-related causes such as drunk driving accidents, cirrhosis of the liver, various cancers and heart disease.