Experts Link Social Drinking to Alcoholism

Going out on the weekend to a bar with friends to buy drinks before going to a club sounds like the ideal situation for a college student. But what happens when drinking stops becoming a weekend trend and becomes an everyday fad?

Away from home, students often find themselves longing for a sense of connection with their peers. Most students want to be accepted on some level, and this comes at a cost. College students are put in situations that compromise their character, causing them to make errors in judgments

Antwan Smith, a third-year business administration student, said he only drinks when he goes out with friends, but admits that he goes out often.

“It’s never fun being the only sober one in the room,” said Smith.

Drinking alcohol in the college atmosphere has been costly to those who overindulge in the activity. Since 2009, 3,360,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 have driven under the influence of alcohol. More than 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 died from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes. Also, 31 percent of college students met criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6 percent for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence in the past 12 months, according to the College Drinking Prevention Council.

Cassandra Carter, a counselor for the Life Recovery Center, Inc., said social drinking could lead to alcoholism.

“Students usually become regular drinkers,” Carter said. “It’s like a fly that got caught in a spider web.”

Carter, who has a B.S in human service, said because college students are surrounded by liquor stores within close proximity of campus, and attend parties and socials that distribute alcohol, they gradually begin to like the feeling of drinking. Peer pressure is also a contributing factor.

“The students want to do what their peers do,” said Carter. “Students, based off their social circles, are likely to indulge in the same activities as them.”

Carter said alcoholism is a disease that is broken up into two types. First is the dependent or functional alcoholic, which is a person who drinks alcohol because he or she feels the need to drink complete daily tasks.

The second type is an abusive alcoholic or dysfunctional alcoholic, someone who doesn’t understand that the overconsumption of alcohol is physically and mentally damaging.

College students usually fall into the second category, Carter said, because they are new to drinking alcohol and usually do not know their consumption limit.

Drinking has different affects based off the individual: some experience confidence, others insecurities.

Cassandra Laws, a fourth-year English education student, said it’s best to surround yourself with people like you, especially if you’re a student experiencing college for the first time.

“I think it’s possible to get addicted to anything that you do a lot,” said Laws. “I’m smart enough to know that I shouldn’t be around people who have addictive personalities. It is too easy to fall into something because the people you are around are into it.”

For help or information, contact the Tallahassee branch of Alcoholics Anonymous at (850) 224-1818.