Why it is Important to College Students

The affects of alcohol on the brain is a subject that every college student should know. Why, you might ask? Students should know these affects including the long term and short term, and how it might affect their social life, school work, ability for their body to maintain daily functioning, and the psychological effects it can have on their mind. Alcohol is a drug that is legal for people above the age of 21 by law, but in the college environment underage drinking does occur. This page is not trying to make you stop drinking if you currently do drink underage, the purpose is to inform you of the potential effects it may have.

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  • How the Effects of Drinking in College and the Effects of Alcohol Are Related to Psychology

How are the consumption of alcohol in college, and the public in general, and the effects it has on the mind, body, and social life of people related to psychology? They are related in a number of ways. The first being that alcohol affects memory and brain development. Memory and the development of the brain are major topics in psychology and are widely studied. Another reason is how alcohol affects peoples decision making abilities in all aspects of life including work, school, and social life. Addiction is also a topic studied in psychology. The addiction to alcohol related to the quantity consumed, the frequency of consuming, and the relationship between drinking behaviors in adolescents and adulthood all fit into Alcohol related topics that could be studied in the field of psychology. Also what influences people to start consuming alcohol and at what age, along with their drinking behavior and type of drinking, such as binge drinking versus moderately consuming. One last topic related to drinking that could be studied in the field of psychology that isn't discussed in this web page is how different types of alcohol can make people feel different emotions, and how alcohol consumption can amplify emotions or take peoples mind off of current stresses or even positive events in a person's life.
  • Long Term Effects

Drinking has many long term effects which are negative and harmful to the body. Some effects include permanent damage to the brain, liver damage, nerve damage, ulcers, gastritis (inflammation of the stomach walls), malnutrition, vitamin B1 deficiency (which can lead to disorders such as amnesia, apathy, and disorientation), chemical dependency, high blood pressure, stroke, and other heart related problems, and cancer of the mouth and throat. A lot of these effects are irreversible and can ultimately shorten a person's life and lead to death. People who consume alcohol are also known to have many work and social life related problems such as domestic violence, car crashes, sexual assault, firearm injuries, increased on the job injuries, loss of productivity, increased family problems, and relationship problems. These effects can really change and hurt a person's life. People that become dependent on alcohol may have a hard time stopping drinking and may need to seek help from outside sources such as Alcoholics Anonymous, a psychiatrist, or mental health doctors. These long term affects may not be noticeable right away and the consumer of alcohol may not think the problems are because of their alcohol abuse. In the article it shows evidence of spouses of drinkers having more distress of spouses of non drinkers. The long term effect of alcohol saying that it may cause relationship problems fits in with this study. This research also leads me to believe that people close to alcohol users are emotionally affected by their habit and could also cause relationship problems. This article agrees with other internet articles and my thoughts on how alcohol can cause relationship problems based on events I have witnessed in my own life. The second article talks about how alcohol is linked to aggressive behavior in relationships and the problems that may arise. This also reinforces the idea that alcohol consumption affects relationships and also may cause aggressive incidents that lead to legal matters.

Source Cited:

BMC Public Health. 2013, Vol. 13 Issue 1, p1-13. 13p. 1 Diagram, 4 Charts, 1Graph.
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Vol 26(3), Sep, 2012. pp. 414-422
  • Short Term Effects

The short term effects of alcohol occur during consumption, or as the alcohol is leaving the body. Some short term effects of alcohol include slurred speech, drowsiness, vomiting, diarrhea, upset stomach, headaches, breathing difficulties, vision and hearing impairment, decreased perception and coordination, unconsciousness, anemia (loss of red blood cells), comas, blackouts (memory lapses where drinkers are unable to remember events that occurred while under the influence). These effects can lead to negative consequences and negative choices which may have legal consequences or even injuries to the consumer. One short term effect that one should really think about when they decide to drink is alcohol poisoning. Alcohol poisoning can severely hurt your liver by causing it to shut down. It can also cause a person to lose consciousness and a persons heart to stop. If a person has alcohol poisoning they may wind up in the hospital and need an IV to put fluid back into their system or to have their stomach pumped to remove the alcohol. This not only is a huge health risk but also is a huge financial burden. The ride in the ambulance, the emergency room bill, and the costs to have the doctors perform these procedurescan be very expensive. The average cost for this is over $1000. Is it really worth that much money and the negative effects that come along with drinking to consume large amounts of alcohol? Drinking in moderation the consumer may still experience some of these symptoms, as well as drinking in large amounts. Knowing the short term effects of alcohol, why do people continue to drink?
  • Reasons People Consume Alcohol

People consume alcohol for many different reasons. Some of the top reasons people list for drinking are as follows: Social influence- society has become widely accepting of consuming alcohol in adults and college students. The acceptance by society and the media showing drinking and college, you can say somewhat pressures, finds it accepting, or even encourages drinking. Social Pressure- Many people who have never drank before are pressured by their peers or at parties to consume alcohol or do different drugs. Peers along with family are major influences to a person. If peers start to drink or if parents openly use alcohol in front of others, even if they don't approve their kids or others drinking underage, it makes them think that it is okay to consume alcohol. To loosen inhibitions- Some people drink because they feel awkward at parties, people that are shy may do it to become more social, or even doing it while at work or before to become more social or relieve pressure. Stress Relief- People use drinking as a stress relief because they feel it will take their mind off of the things they are stressed about. They forget about their problems when consuming alcohol but after the alcohol is out of their system the problems are still there and they are more easily stressed out and easier to become upset. Drinking to relieve stress is more like drinking to forget about stress while you are intoxicated, and is only a temporary relief, more like removal for a short period of time, for the problems. Excessive drinking to relieve problems usually leads to more problems in the long run. One problem that usually arises is that people start to turn to alcohol every time they are stressed and this leads to a drinking problem. Escapism- Some people drink to escape from current problems in life. Drinking to escape is similar to drinking for stress relief. Some reasons for drinking to escape are boredom, mounting stress or problems, or depression. This article links adolescent drinking to if a parent consumed alcohol in front of them. I think that both parents and peers are the biggest influence on drinking for a person and this shows that parents do influence their child's decision to drink or not by the parent's actions. This also goes along with other sources that say parents drinking behaviors may influence their children.

Sources Cited:

Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Vol 24(3), Sep, 2010. pp. 386-396
  • Alcohol Dependency

Alcohol dependence is the physical or mental addiction to alcohol. It makes a person have a strong need or craving to drink. It may even lead to a person feeling the need to drink just to get by. Some symptoms of dependency include not being able to control how much you drink or to stop drinking, needing to drink more to get the same effect, giving up activities to drink, spending more time drinking and recovering from drinking, have tried to quit drinking or cut back on the amount you drink but haven't been able to, and you continue to drink even though it harms your relationships and causes physical problems.
Alcoholism is a chronic disease. The disease is influenced by your genes and life situations. A standard drink is 1 can of beer (12 oz), 1 glass of wine (5 fl. oz.), 1 shot (1.5 fl. oz.), or one mixed drink (16 oz. drink equals 11 standard drinks) (Shown in image below). Doctors say that you may have a problem drinking if: a woman who has three or more drinks at one time or more than 7 in a week, or a man who has more than 4 drinks in one sitting or more than 14 drinks in a week. Along with how much you drink in a certain time period another factor is if you do it consistently, every week or every other week (on a regular basis), under normal circumstances. This being said some circumstances such as a friends birthday party and having more than 4 drinks or multiple birthday parties in a week and having more than 14 drinks doesn't mean you are an alcoholic. Behaviors that might indicate alcoholism include drinking in the morning, being drunk throughout the day, drinking alone, switching what you drink such as from liquor to beer because you think it will help you drink less and keep you from getting drunk, feeling guilt after drinking, doing things to hide your drinking, making excuses for you to drink or for why you drink, blackouts, or worrying that you won't get enough drinking done during a day or during the week or weekend. Alcoholism can be diagnosed by a persons family doctor or mental health doctor. To treat alcoholism people may need to see a doctor or seek treatment in a hospital or mental health institute. The treatment of alcoholism depends on how bad the addiction is. If the problem is not super severe a person may go to a psychiatrist to help them just cut back on the amount they drink. If it is a severe problem a person may need to spend time in a hospital because of withdrawal symptoms, go through detoxification to rid their body of alcohol, attend meetings to try to help keep the person clean, or take medicine that makes a person sick if they consume alcohol to try to get them to quit. Recovering from alcoholism may be harder depending on how addicted the person is and the willpower they have to stop or consume drinks in a safer manner.
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  • Effects of Alcohol on Memory

Alcohol has been proven to affect a person's ability to learn, retain, and retrieve stored information in the brain. Alcohol affects a person's memory because it blocks the part of the brain responsible for storing memories, short and long term, which are the hippocampus and hypothalamus. People who consume alcohol can experience blackouts, which are when a person can't remember part of a night in which they were consuming alcohol. Another syndrome that can occur is Wernicke-Korsakoff Syndrome, which causes you to forget simple tasks like forgetting you put laundry in the washer or forgetting taking a book back to the library. This happens because this syndrome makes it hard for you to remember old memories and also hard to make new memories. Research shows these memory problems occur from a deficiency in vitamin B1. This syndrome usually occurs after a person stops drinking and doctors recommend people eat food rich in vitamin B1 to help their abilities relating to memories. Hepatic Encephalopathy is when your liver is unable to remove alcohol toxins from your blood and it affects your brain. This causes a person to have long term memory problems and also have problems with motor skills like writing or speaking. Alcohol in combination with other drugs, prescription and non-prescription, is shown to worsen memory problems compared to if a person were to consume alcohol alone. The article below talks about how alcohol affects implicit memory processes and also working memory processes. People teach that alcohol does affect your memory abilities and this article supports that hypothesis. It also agrees with other internet sources that say that alcohol affects memory.

Source Cited:

Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, May 6, 2013.
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  • Effects of Alcohol on the Developing Brain

Alcohol is known to affect the cerebral cortex, central nervous system, frontal lobes, hippocampus, cerebellum, hypothalamus, and medulla. Alcohol effects the central cortex, which works with information from a person's senses, by slowing it down. Alcohol also slows down the central nervous system making a person have slow reactions and also think, speak, and move slower. The frontal lobes are in charge of planning, making decisions, forming ideas, and self control. When alcohol affects the frontal lobes a person may find it hard to control their urges or emotions. Long term alcohol use can permanently damage the frontal lobes. When the hippocampus is damaged it may cause a person to have memory problems or blackout. Permanent damage to the hippocampus by alcohol may make it hard for a person to learn and retain knowledge. Alcohol affects a persons coordination, balance, thoughts, and awareness when it enters the cerebellum. When alcohol enters the hypothalamus it affects a person's blood pressure, hunger, thirst, and makes a person have the urge to urinate excessively while lowering heart rate and blood pressure. The medulla controls the body's automatic actions such as a person's heart beat and body temperature. Alcohol can affect the medulla and lower a person's body temperature. In the journal they did research on the effects of alcohol on different parts of primates bodies. Evidence shows that it affected different parts of the brain, the kidneys, and the liver. Kids have been taught about alcohol and the different parts of the body since they were young. This article provides evidence of this being true through the study done on the primates which are closely related to humans. This article also provides evidence and agrees with other internet articles about parts of the body of which alcohol affects. The article also provides insight about how fast people absorb alcohol which is different for people based on factors such as genetics, race, weight, and height: and how alcohol affects everyone differently.

Source Cited:

PLoS ONE. Oct2012, Vol. 7 Issue 10, Special section p1-9. 9p

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  • Methods Colleges Use to Try to Control Drinking

Most colleges have tried methods to control and limit underage drinking. Some colleges also present information about drinking to freshman or incoming students during Orientation week. In 2012 Coe College had a group come in and do a presentation about drinking and how it can affect college students in their social, work, and academic lives. Coe College also has different punishments for getting caught by a Resident Assistant. Some punishments include a probationary period, having to complete an online alcohol education course, and others. Colleges that try to control alcohol consumption on their campus generally use similar methods which include changing peoples attitudes, knowledge, and behavioral intentions related to alcohol consumption; modify or eliminating environmental factors that contribute to the problem; trying to protect students from the short term effects of alcohol consumption that are harmful; and trying to help students who have shown signs of having problems drinking or are addicted to drinking. Most colleges give students the resources and knowledge for students to know the effects of alcohol, yet some students still choose to drink in both moderation and in high risk ways. For the most part colleges adequately try to inform students and control drinking, but in the end it is a students choice and some of them still choose to do so.
  • Different Types of Drinking

People who consume alcohol do not always drink enough to get drunk, blackout, or get alcohol poisoning. Some people are able to drink casually with friends without having too much as to where it effects them in negative or harmful ways. Here is a list of the International Classifications Related to Alcohol Consumption
Hazardous drinking- Consumption above the safe limits of alcohol, increasing a person's risk of harm
Harmful Drinking- Pattern of alcohol use that is actively causing "physical or mental damage to health." ex. episodes of depression secondary to heavy consumption of alcohol.
Alcohol Abuse- Person's drinking is causing repeated social harm to that individual or other. ex. Drinking and driving or work problems
Other types of drinking include:
Moderate or low risk drinking- Consuming below the amount that a person should consume in a single setting ( 4 standard drink for men, 3 for women).
Binge Drinking- Consuming above the recommended limit of drink in a single setting in a short amount of time.
  • Issues Related to Drinking for College Students

  • 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries.
  • More than 690,000 students between 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who had been consuming alcohol.
  • More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
  • 599,000 students between18 and 24 receive unintentional injuries while under the influence of alcohol.
  • About 25% of students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind. doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall
  • More than 150,000 students develop alcohol related health problems and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to alcohol and drug use.
In the article they provide evidence that links impulsive decision making to be higher when under the influence of alcohol in women. This goes along with other sources in agreeing that alcohol affects decision making abilities and may lead to risky behaviors. When people are taught about alcohol and its effects they talk about how it affects a person's decision making ability and this research proves that to be true. The second article talks about what college students assumed were the drinking norms and positive alcohol expectancies (PAE) and how the were related to the quantity of alcohol they consumed and the frequency in which they consumed. The study shows that the drinking norms people thought had a direct relationship with quantity consumed but not the frequency of how much a student drank. The PAE's had unidirectional correlation showing they influenced quantity and frequency both ways meaning it swayed students to drink more and also less and also more or less frequently for the different participants study. This somewhat agrees with my knowledge that peers and what people see as the norms for drinking in colleges sway them to drink more. I thought PAE's would have more of an influence on college drinking behaviors to encourage it. This article does support other sources info on peer pressure and norms but at the same time it kind of contradicts that PAE's and norms only encourage drinking more and more frequently.

Source Cited:

Experimental and Clinical Psychopharmacology, Vol 20(6), Dec, 2012. pp. 454-465
Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, Vol 27(1), Mar, 2013. pp. 191-196

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How Drinking is Beneficial as Compared to Negative for Different Age Groups

Drinking alcohol at a young age can affect brain development and cause learning problems and lead to adult alcoholism. Drinking moderately benefits you if you are an older adult or if you have existing risk factors for heart disease. These benefits don't outweigh the risks if you currently don't drink and think you should start because of these benefits. Benefits include: reduced risk of developing heart disease, reduced risk of dying from a heart attack, possibly reduce risk of strokes, lower your risk of gallstones, and possibly reduce risk of diabetes. People say that drinking may be beneficial to adults because they are assuming the adults are consuming alcohol in moderation and not exceeding the daily standard limit for safe consumption. Another reason why they say drinking has benefits for adults and not all ages is because younger adult's (18-26) brains are still developing and also because young adults are more likely to drink more than the recommended amount in a day. When they release reports about the benefits of drinking they usually fail to mention the negative side effects and these negative side effects outweigh the positive side effects.

Source Cited:

Foster, R. K., & Marriott, H. E. (2006). Alcohol consumption in the new millennium – weighing up the risks and benefits for our health. Nutrition Bulletin, 31(4), 286-331. doi:10.1111/j.1467-3010.2006.00588.x
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  • Conclusions

Since most of us were younger, schools usually taught us about the dangerous effects consuming alcohol and other subjects. Scientific evidence proves that there are harmful physical and social effects that come along with alcohol. The effects of alcohol can be experienced when drinking in moderation and also drinking more than a person should. Evidence also shows that the harm to others and oneself from alcohol is larger than that of other harmful substances like tobacco, abusing prescription drugs, and illegal drugs such as cocaine, but yet people still continue to consume alcohol. Why is this? One hypothesis I have come to is that they choose to drink alcohol because of peers and family members that do and also because it is legal to consume when you are 21 years old. Other substances such as illegal narcotics and prescription drugs are not legal at any age. Other possibilities for why this is the drug often consumed may be the ease of obtaining it, the cost is usually less than other drugs and you can get a larger quantity for the price, and people assuming that if other major figures in a person's life consume alcohol that it is okay for them to also. Knowing the health and social risks when consuming alcohol, why is it legal after turning 21 as where other drugs that are illegal are shown to have less harmful physical effects on the body, less social risks, and less chance of hurting others? The legalization of some of these drugs that are shown to be less harmful is up for debate right now by the United States government. Looking at this issue from a statistical viewpoint, how is it not logical to legalize less harmful drugs? Having the belief of pro-choice I think that people should be able to choose what they want to put in their body and that drugs that are known to be less harmful to others and oneself should be legalized. On the other hand, alcohol being the leading drug for harm to the consumer and others may be because alcohol is more widely used than these other drugs. Most people know some of the main short term effects that consuming alcohol brings, but do people know what the serious short and long term effects are? Logic and reasoning would lead you to believe that if less harmful drugs were legal and available they would be used more than alcohol if one knew the consequences of these drugs. The main conclusion I have come to is that the effects alcohol has on the body and social life of the consumer have more negative side effects and consequences than positive ones by a long shot and also knowing that alcohol is the leading drug to cause self harm and harm to others, that individuals who are deciding whether to use this drug should really look into it and think about all the consequences that are associated.
  • Why I Chose This Topic

I chose this topic because I felt that it was a very common occurrence in colleges. I also chose the topic of Alcoholism because of the events in my life that have resulted from a person consuming alcohol or continuing to consume alcohol in a high risk way. My grandmother was hit by a drunk driver, and my grandpa is an alcoholic that is so dependent on alcohol that if he doesn't have alcohol in his system he has convulsions or seizure like episodes. The consequences of others consuming alcohol has greatly affected my life and is a subject I take very seriously. The purpose of this page is not to tell you that drinking is terrible and that you shouldn't do it. I made this page to inform you of some of the possible consequences of consuming alcohol, how it can affect you and others directly and indirectly, that there is a safe way in which alcohol can be consumed, and that if you choose to consume alcohol you should think about the consequences and if you consume large amounts that you should try to make responsible decisions. Thank you for taking the time to read this informative wiki and I hope you have learned something that will influence you to consume alcohol in a safe manner and to try to be safer when under the influence.

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