Underage college drinking is a major public health concern across the United States due to the adverse repercussions it has on the academic and social lives of students living on university campuses. It is also very troublesome to accept the fact that the entire concept of drinking during college days is continually reinforced year after year because of the notion that alcohol is an integral part of the higher education experience.
While most adolescents enter college with some beforehand experience with alcohol, certain social forces that are unique to college life, such as unstructured time, the widespread availability of alcohol, lack of enforcement of underage drinking laws, limited interactions with parents, etc., can worsen a teenager’s tendency to consume alcohol. These factors also significantly increase the risk of developing an alcohol use disorder (AUD) in adulthood and other alcohol-related problems if left unaddressed.
The repercussions of drinking extend beyond the users to all the people around them. The intoxicated people usually become aggressive due to the impairment of cognitive-behavioral skills and indulge in violence and vandalism that increases the risk of getting hurt for those who happen to be in their way. Similar challenges are experienced across the campuses due to the increased practice of drinking. A large number of students have fallen prey to the secondhand harm of alcohol and many of the families have been torn apart.
High prevalence of secondhand harm from alcohol
A study by the Research Society on Alcoholism suggests “secondhand harm” from drinking or other indirect factors pertaining to alcohol multiplies the danger of witnessing alcohol-related harm among students. The research draws attention toward the dangers of the not-so-immediate harm that alcohol causes to a person, even if he or she has not consumed alcohol. According to past research, more than 70 percent of college undergraduates have come under harm from other students’ consumption of alcohol.
To carry out the study, researchers conducted an online survey in 2015 in which 1,537 first-year Canadian undergraduates participated. Of these total participants, two-thirds were women. To investigate whether secondhand harm correlated with latent factors that reflect types of alcohol-related harm and examine a student’s vulnerability to secondhand harm, the researchers used the following tools:
- The Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) to ascertain problematic alcohol use.
- The Substance Use Risk Profile Scale (SURPS) to measure a student’s personality.
- The Castellanos-Ryan and Conrod’s 4-factor personality model for alcohol disorders were used to find the predictors of exposure to secondhand harm, such as impulsivity (IMP), sensation seeking (SS), hopelessness (HOP) and anxiety sensitivity (AS).
In addition, 11 secondhand harm choices were given to the students in the survey, which ranged from “interrupted your studies” to “sexually harassed/insulted you.” After assessing the respondents’ inputs, it was found that secondhand harm due to alcohol was high among undergraduates. Some of the other findings were as follows:
- “Strains” like interruption of sleep or study represented 68 percent, “threats” like harassment or assaults represented 44 percent, and “interpersonal harm” like arguments with peers represented 64 percent.
- Approximately 35 percent reported experiencing all of the above harm in the previous term.
- The four personalities that include IMP, SS, HOP and AS were associated with greater secondhand harm due to alcohol exposure, albeit through different mechanisms.
- Hopelessness was directly associated with threats and interpersonal harm; anxiety sensitivity was directly associated with all forms of harm.
- While sensation seeking and impulsivity were indirectly associated with all three types of harm in addition to a student’s problematic alcohol use, impulsivity was directly related to threats.
The findings reflect upon the less-focused factors, such as personality traits, peer pressure and becoming a victim of an inebriated peer’s actions. These findings also have the potential to create personality-targeted interventions to reduce the prevalence of secondhand harm due to alcohol among college students.
Drinking: A hurdle in the way of growth
Alcohol has the potential to rewire the brain, often causing problems like memory loss, cognitive impairment, mood swings, poor coordination level, etc. A person coping with alcohol addiction experiences changes in his or her appetite, problems at work, loss of interest in things, severe or extreme emotions, etc. When grappling such a challenging situation, one should undergo detoxification to expunge stored toxins. This process accelerates the process of recovery.
If you or your loved one is battling alcohol addiction, it is imperative to seek professional help. The Florida Detox Helpline assists in accessing the finest alcohol detox in Florida that specializes in delivering evidence-based intervention plans. Call at our 24/7 helpline 855-920-9869 or chat online to know more about the detox centers in Florida.