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Tip 1:          Academics

I have friends who party all the time, or at least it seems that way, and they still get great grades.  What’s the deal?

Jonas L.,   U Mass, Junior

I usually drink just Thursday, Friday and Saturday.  I keep up with all my schoolwork and have fairly decent grades.  I never drink in the mornings or alone or any of that alcoholic stuff the teachers always talk about.  My mother says I drink too much.  Is she just being paranoid or do you think three nights a week is too much?

Chris D.,   University of Maine, Sophomore

Jonas, your friends who are partying hard and still scoring great in class are certainly the exception to the rule.  There may be a few reasons for this.  They may be studying during the day when no one sees them.  Or, perhaps they are getting grades lower than what they could be getting if they weren’t drinking so heavily.  In other words maybe they are not meeting their true academic potential.  Then again maybe your friends have deep pockets and can afford a “ghostwriter” for many of their most important projects and tests.


High risk alcohol use can have a damaging effect on academic performance.  Ongoing research indicates that “A” students average about 3 drinks per week whereas “D” or “F” students average approximately 9 drinks per week.  One of the causes of these deficient grades is certainly the fact that students who drink the most miss the most classes. Alcohol also has several physiological and psychological effects that can inhibit academic performance.  Alcohol affects many parts of the brain, in particular those associated with memory, coordination, and judgment. 

  • Alcohol can impair memory by inhibiting the transfer and consolidation of information into long-term memory.

  • Cognitive abilities are affected by even low Blood Alcohol Levels – even as low as .03%.  This can persist for a substantial period of time well after getting drunk or even slightly buzzed.

  • Attention span is shorter for periods of up to 48 hours after drinking. 

  • After a year of heavy use, alcohol can alter and even destroy brain cells as well as cells that supply energy and nutrients to the brain.

  • Following high levels of intoxication, cognitive processes remain impaired for as much as 72 hours after alcohol has left the blood stream. So, if you party hard on a Saturday night, cognitively you aren't back to normal until at least Tuesday.

  • Alcohol can cause damage to the connections between nerve cells and cause irreversible brain damage, including memory loss and personality changes.'

Chris, I can’t say if drinking three times a week is too much without knowing the quantity that you drink as well.  If you are getting impaired most nights, not only are you putting yourself at risk for many of the impairment problems identified in this book, but your grades are probably suffering a bit due to your drinking as well.  If you were to cut back your quantity and frequency of drinking, I suspect your grades would improve beyond  “fairly decent.”



If you are having difficulty with your academic performance, monitor your alcohol consumption to evaluate if it is interfering with your studies. 

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