When Does College Drinking Become a Problem?

In Addiction, Health & Wellness by Tree House Recovery

Alcohol has long been part of the culture of colleges and universities in the US. College students drink more than their non-matriculating peers, especially students involved in Greek life. Many students take a work-hard-play-hard approach to classes, studying hard during the week and partying hard on the weekends–which often start on Thursday night. While this isn’t exactly healthy, most college students won’t develop serious alcohol use issues. However, just because alcohol is part of college culture doesn’t mean students are immune to addiction. College is a high-stress environment and many students feel isolated and overwhelmed. Here’s how to tell if social drinking in college has become a problem.


Your grades drop.

One big sign of trouble is dropping grades. Excessive drinking can make it extremely hard to keep your head above water in a challenging class. For one thing, drinking takes away study time. College schedules are often packed and whatever time you spend drinking is time you’re not devoting to something more productive, like study, exercise, or sleep. Sleep is an especially big issue. Alcohol disrupts your sleep, preventing you from entering restorative deep sleep. Although you may study and go to class during the day, sleep is when that new information is actually stored in your brain, so the more your sleep is disrupted, the harder it is to learn and the more your grades suffer.


You miss classes and other commitments.

Another reason excessive drinking causes grades to fall is that students are more likely to miss class and other commitments because of drinking. It’s hard to do well in class if you don’t show up. Not only do you miss out on valuable content, but you also miss out on information about tests and assignments. When you do fall behind, the professor is less likely to help a student who never comes to class. Perhaps of greater concern is that missing class because of drinking indicates a lack of priorities. Often, when people become addicted to alcohol, they protect their drinking time. They cancel plans or neglect responsibilities if they conflict with drinking. If you’re skipping classes that you or your parents pay a lot for, alcohol may be a problem. 


You show signs of addiction.

Prioritizing drinking over classes and other responsibilities is a common symptom of addiction but there are others to watch out for too. These include being secretive or deceptive about how much you drink; continuing to drink despite signs that it’s harming you, including poor grades, disciplinary action, health problems, or legal trouble; needing to drink to feel normal; lying or stealing to get a drink; not being able to stop drinking once you start; or trying to quit drinking but not being able to. 


While drinking in college is considered normal, college-aged people are at high risk for developing an addiction. If drinking has become a problem, getting help is crucial. Tree House Recovery of Portland, Oregon is a treatment program for men of all ages struggling with substance use disorders. Call us today at (503) 850-2474 to learn more about how our program can help you overcome problem drinking and get back on course.