I don’t want the time of my life to ruin the rest of my life.
Those words of wisdom were spoken by a student who entered my office depressed over the fact that heavy alcohol use was taking over his life. While in high school he was an honor student and outstanding athlete. Now a college sophomore, he had been dismissed from his team and his grades were the worst they had ever been. He was now looking for help.
The difficulties experienced by college students due to high-risk alcohol consumption are often a result of serious misunderstandings about its use. I’ll quit when I graduate... It’s part of college life... Everyone does it... It was just a game... It’s only beer... There’s nuthin’ else to do. These are all-too-familiar phrases reflecting the beliefs and attitudes expressed by many college students attempting to justify, in some way, their high-risk alcohol use.
Beer, Booze, and Books can help you, the college student, gain a clearer understanding of the role alcohol may be playing in your life or the lives of your peers. Included in this book are numerous quotes taken from the thousands of students I have worked with during the past twenty five years. These quotes indicate the myriad of difficulties and, at times, misperceptions and inaccurate information that influence students when they make decisions about alcohol use. At the request of some of the students, some of the quotes have been either adapted or listed as anonymous to protect their identity.
As you will see, there is no clear-cut answer to the dilemma about alcohol use. What we do know is that alcohol use can be risky. What we do know is that although most students either do not drink, or if they do choose to drink they do so at a low risk level, there is a high-profile minority of other students drinking heavily and suffering because of it. Some of the results may be hangovers, vomiting, or missing class. Other negative outcomes may include poor grades, fights or unplanned sexual encounters resulting in sexually transmitted diseases. The high-risk use of alcohol by these students is also problematic for their peers who do not consume at a risky level. Late-night noise in the residence halls, fights, and property damage are just some of the problems they face.
It has been almost twenty five years since the first edition of this book. During that time there have been no significant changes in the overall drinking patterns of college students. One promising strategy which has had some positive impact on college drinking is referred to as social norming. The emphasis of this strategy is to reinforce for students an understanding that most students either do not drink or, if they do drink, they do so at a low risk level. Throughout this book I have attempted to reinforce this fact by providing you with accurate data that supports this understanding and resulting strategy.
However, since we know that approximately 80 percent of college students drink, I believe it is imperative that you receive clear, accurate and applicable information. Too often college students dismiss alcohol education programs as judgmental preaching based on scare tactics and moralistic lectures. Regrettably, these students are often correct in their evaluation of these programs. While neither condoning nor condemning alcohol consumption, this book takes a closer look at college drinking and provides you with insights that can help you minimize your risks, if you do choose to consume alcohol.
The choice to consume alcohol or not is your choice, not the host of the party, not the social chair of the fraternity, not your roommate, not your friend, not the captain of the team. The choice to consume or not and the choice of how much if you do consume is yours and yours alone. These are choices you will be confronted with throughout your college life. I hope this book helps you in making the choices that will make college the time of your life – a time you will not regret, but will cherish for the rest of your life.
Finally, with regard to alcohol and gender related concerns. Although I have attempted to be as gender neutral as possible, the reality is that alcohol can impact males and females differently due to gender specific biological differences. Additionally, for the most part, the culture of college and university campuses continues to reflect many stereotypical behaviors and attitudes with regard to alcohol and gender roles and sexual activity. This book addresses college drinking issues within the context of that culture.