The reality of drinking in excess in college

By: Miranda Mowrey, Columnist

Almost all universities require that incoming students take some version of an alcohol education course. Like me, you probably waited until the last possible moment to complete the course and didn’t give yourself the chance to soak in any of the information. As young and naïve freshman, we didn’t recognize the amount of alcohol abuse we would see take place in the next four years of college. We didn’t take seriously just how many of our friends would go down the wrong path when it came to drinking. 

Three years later, I have witnessed firsthand the unforgiving nature of alcohol abuse in my friends, classmates and coworkers. I now realize the importance of understanding your limits and the dangerous road that drinking too much can lead someone down.

Surprisingly to some, it is considered binge drinking when a woman has four or more drinks within one hour and a man has five or more drinks within one hour. Binge drinking, especially in college, is so normalized by the media and leads to real life people developing problems with alcohol. Movies, TV shows and social media portray the message that college is the time to be young and crazy. That it is the time to live out those unforgettable stories you will tell your kids about. However, my guess is you will make better memories that you will actually remember after casually sipping on a glass of wine with your roommate than slamming down countless shots of plain Burnett’s and missing your 8 a.m. the next day.

About 20% of college students engage in drinking behavior that would categorize them as having alcohol use disorder (AUD). Someone with AUD has an intensely strong need to drink and cannot seem to control how much they drink. Those that abuse alcohol in this way continue to use it despite the ongoing problems drinking causes.

I am sure you can think of a couple people in your life that may have AUD. You may have had fleeting thoughts about confronting a peer about their drinking, but decided that you were just being dramatic or that they wouldn’t take your concerns seriously. Chances are, you are not the only one concerned about this person — and perhaps the individual suffering from AUD is fearful of the path they are going down, too.

There are so many resources on campus that can help you out if you are concerned about yourself or someone else, or if you’re simply in need of more information about what it means to abuse alcohol. Towson offers an Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug (ATOD) peer education program that helps educate students about how to drink safely. Grace Hehir, a peer educator for Towson’s ATOD, notes that the program is “committed to providing information to students so they can “party smart.”

Outside of ATOD, Hehir emphasizes all of the other ways you can get help on campus.

“There are so many resources available to the student body to educate those who drink or use drugs,” she said. “And the counseling center is full of professionals who can assist those who suspect they may have an issue with substance use.”

Towson offers eight free sessions of counseling as well as a collegiate recovery program, Tigers in Recovery, which helps aid students in their recovery process while still maintaining their authentic college experience.

All in all, we are so young and full of potential. We have so much ahead of us — amazing things to create, people to inspire, and places to explore. Abusing alcohol mitigates all of the great things you can do for this world. Before you or a friend travel down the wrong path, get the help and resources needed to ensure that you or a peer are showing up everyday as your best self.

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