College Alcoholism Is Increasing: What Statistics Show Us

In Addiction by Tree House Recovery

Binge drinking culture in college is nothing new. All one has to do is revisit the film Animal House to be reminded that partying, drinking too much, and academic pursuits often go hand in hand. College towns seem to be saturated with bars, clubs, and liquor stores as a way to both make money and offer the liberation of libation college students desperately need when they can get themselves out of the library. Academic stress is high for college students today, as is emotional stress, political stress, economic stress, and much more. Research is finding that college students are not just drinking more, but drinking alcoholically, which has both short term and long term implications.

The National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse has found that 20% of college students meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder. To be extremely clear, there is a significant difference between binge drinking, even habitual binge drinking, and alcoholism. College students who are binge drinking regularly may not have developed the threshold of tolerance or any symptoms of chemical dependency. In between binge drinking episodes, they are capable of managing their drinking, drinking normally when they do drink, and making the decision not to drink at all. For college students who meet the criteria for an alcohol use disorder, this is not the case. Students who are struggling with undiagnosed alcoholism are likely drinking more often, in greater amounts with a growing inability to manage and control their drinking. Whereas students who binge drink regularly might have the occasional slip up by way of poor decision making, students who are drinking alcoholically are likely to be racking up negative consequences from their drinking, which are constantly worsening.

Both binge drinking and drinking alcoholically are problematic for physical health and mental health. Binge drinking can put drinkers at greater risk of infections from an inhibited immune system, heart failure, and more. Alcoholic drinking can cause great damage to the liver, the brain, and other parts of the body as well.

What the statistics on college drinking show us is that college students are in need of healthier, non-alcoholic coping skills to let off some steam and have fun. As well, college students are in need of more information regarding binge drinking and alcoholism in order to gauge their own drinking patterns while being able to look out for their peers.


Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon is a men’s addiction treatment center that teaches our clients how to roll with life’s punches and use the tools they’ve learned throughout the treatment process to stay on top of anything life throws at them. Call (503) 850-2474 to see how we can help you today.