Updated: Feb 17
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, about 20% of college students meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder. This statistic continues to rise as more and more college students find themselves crossing the thin line over from casual drinking to something more serious.
While drinking can be a fun and social event, there are heavy consequences that can come along with it. Whether you personally drink or not, it is virtually impossible that you won't come into contact with college drinking at least once during your higher education experience.
The term 'alcoholic' has a very stereotypical meaning attached to it. For many of us, when we think of someone who has an alcohol problem, we may see an older person who is down in the dumps, unhappy and unstable. We forget that there are also people who are "functioning alcoholics" who may not fit all, if any, of this criteria.
According to American Addiction Centers, a functioning alcoholic is someone who who has "a dependence on, tolerance to, and intense cravings for alcohol," but they still maintain a job, complete school and seem to have apparently healthy relationships. https://americanaddictioncenters.org/alcoholism-treatment/the-functioning-addict
Sometimes it is very hard to know whether or not someone is a functioning alcoholic since they seem to have it all together. They manage to get up, go to work or school and seem to get along just fine. In fact many functioning alcoholics don't even admit that they have a drinking problem to themselves.
The media tends to reinforce that stereotypical alcoholic, as mentioned earlier, in movies and on television. This only adds to the confusion around drinking. The media plants this idea that in order to be an alcoholic, you have to hit some sort of "rock bottom." In reality, not everyone will hit a rock bottom. It is more likely for someone who is struggling with an alcohol problem to float for a while before slowly sinking.
If you or someone you know is struggling with an alcohol problem, there are resources at Salisbury University that can help. About three weeks ago, SU drafted a new drug and alcohol prevention plan, which focuses on nine areas.
These areas are designed to ensure that SU's students, staff and faculty are aware of the dangers of abuse of alcohol and other drugs by providing information to help anyone who is struggling with addiction.
Vice President of Student Affairs Dr. Dane Foust is one of the creators of the new AOD strategic plan. Foust believes media plays a role in pressuring college students to drink so that they make the most of their "college experience."
"I think to a certain extent, the media plays a role in college drinking. Drinking is considered a rite of passage as part of coming to college. A lot of advertising companies play up on this and promote messages like, 'If you're not drinking our beer, you're not part cool,' and young people are seeing these messages all from when they are young children to adulthood," Foust said.
If you're someone who feels the pressure to drink but doesn't want to, just know that there are plenty of other students with this same mindset as you.
"We have also looked at data which indicates probably a third of our students come to SU with either they're not drinking, or they've only experienced very little with drinking," Foust explained. "So part of what we talk about with wellness and with student activities is providing alternatives to drinking as quickly as we possibly can, so that students understand that you may feel pressure to conform, pressure to go to parties, pressure to drink, but there are other things going on."
This article isn't supposed to convey the message that all drinking is bad and if you drink, you are automatically an alcoholic. Instead it's trying to shine light onto the fact that while drinking can be a fun and social event, it is also something that can bring extreme consequences to your life.
Always go about drinking in a safe manner, and if you are drinking, don't do it only because all of your friends are. Remember that there are so many alternatives you could take both on campus and off campus. And if you ever do find yourself in a scary situation and you or someone you know is intoxicated, don't be afraid to call for help.
“If a student is in trouble, and this goes for both drugs and alcohol, and somebody calls for help on their behalf, for example calls an R.A. or the police, they [the student] won't get in trouble with our conduct office … Our goal is to make sure that they are safe rather than get them in trouble," Foust said.
By MELANIE RAIBLE
Featured photo from Pininterst.