Muir Wood therapist, David Laing

College and Drinking: What’s Happening in America?

Drinking is considered to be a vital part of the college experience in today’s society, but is that really what college is about? Theodore Caputi doesn’t think so.

In a Newsroom article, Caputi discusses the expectations of today’s college students to drink. Caputi makes a compelling point about the almost immediate shift in attitudes concerning drinking when a person enters college. He says that college kids are almost expected to drink and this idea is supported by society.

While many adults do not support underage drinking when kids are in high school, Caputi says that he has observed a shift in attitudes towards kids in college. Many people are punished in high school for underage drinking but even while still underage during the first couple years of college, it is thought to be part of the college experience and often goes unpunished.

Caputi believes this societal expectation of college students to drink is a self-fulfilling prophecy. If kids are told that all college students drink, they will think it’s expected and engage in this dangerous behavior without realizing just how dangerous it can be. But why else are college students drinking so much and often to devastating effect?

The Stress of Adulthood

Transitioning from high school to college includes a lot of changes, and those changes bring with them a lot of stress, including:

  • Living on one’s own for the first time
  • Learning how to live with a roommate(s)
  • Relocating
  • Succeeding in classes
  • Managing one’s own schedule, meals, laundry, etc.

These big changes often put new college students in a very vulnerable position, and when alcohol is added to the equation, it often makes things more complicated and difficult to handle.

The Social Piece

Fitting in isn’t easy in any context, but young adults often feel the pressure to quickly figure out where they belong in a new social setting. Many turn to alcohol as a means to relieve this pressure in social situations, standing out by being the loudest or simply drowning their anxiety in a bottle. Others—especially boys—find that it’s easier to be drunk than sober and easier to meet new people and bond with others based on drinking rather than working on relationships that are built on a more solid foundation. Unsure of themselves and knowing few people from home can put many teens in the position of feeling that they have to drink to fit in.

Boys and Alcohol

Over the years, a consistently high rate of drinking has been seen among college students, a trend that apparently developed following World War II. Approximately equal percentages of male and female students consume alcohol, but males are likely to consume more in a drinking session than their female counterparts. They also may be more likely to engage in drinking games that encourage high consumption of alcohol as well as indulge in dangerous activities while under the influence.

How to Get Help

If you believe that your son has a drinking problem, recovery is right around the corner. Here at Muir Wood, we offer a boy-focused rehabilitation program just for teens. Call now to learn more about how we can help your son get on track before college.