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Make smart decisions about alcohol consumption in college

Group of red plastic cups on table, like at a party.

Published August 2, 2023

Alcohol is a regular part of life for many college students. However, making high-risk choices about alcohol can negatively impact your health, academics, relationships and more.

Just under half of 18-22 year old full-time college students reported having drank in the last 30 days, with 27.5% engaging in binge-drinking during that time frame (NIH). Binge drinking, in particular, can cause a significant decrease in academic success.

  • In a national survey, college students who binged drank alcohol at least three times per week were roughly six times more likely to perform poorly on a test or project as a result of drinking versus students who drank but never binged.
  • Students who binge drink are five times more likely to have missed a class compared to students who did not binge drink (NIH).

Excessive alcohol use has also been shown to increase risks of injuries, unsafe sexual behavior, health problems and legal involvement such as a OWI (Operating While Intoxicated). Approximately 16-30% of college students report driving after drinking alcohol; just under half of traffic fatalities among students are alcohol related (NIH).

You can lower your chances of alcohol-related consequences by following lower-risk habits, including:

  • Know your limit and stop drinking at a reasonable time.
  • Alternate alcohol and water while drinking.
  • Do not participate in drinking games.
  • Have a sober ride arranged every time.
  • Eat a meal before drinking.

About 13% of full time college students ages 18-22 meet the criteria for alcohol use disorder (NIH). These criteria include a craving for alcohol; recurrent alcohol use that impairs the ability to fulfill obligations at work, school or home; and continued alcohol use despite recurrent problems caused or worsened by alcohol use (NIH).

If you are concerned about your alcohol consumption or someone you care about, Your Life Iowa can help. Our trained counselors can listen, provide support and help you connect with on-going local services if needed.

You can call, text or chat Your Life Iowa 24/7, 365 days a year. All Your Life Iowa services are free and confidential.