Mar 022005
Authors: Megan Schulz

Drinking alcohol is common across college campuses, but the reasons college students drink are wide and vary from student to student.

"It's probably the same as why everybody drinks," said Pam McCracken, director for the Center for Drug and Alcohol Education. "I don't think that there is one reason for college students."

McCracken said some possible reasons for drinking include relaxation, to relieve stress and the social drinking scene. She also explained why there might be a higher instance of binge drinking among college students versus the rest of the population.

"Part of it is because of the accessibility," McCracken said. "If I'm underage and I get the opportunity to drink, it's go time because I don't know the next time I will have access to alcohol."

Drinking games are also more prominent between the ages of 18 to 24 than the rest of the population. The nature of these games encourages binge drinking.

The Center for Drug and Alcohol Education, located in the basement of Hartshorn Health Services, offers free drug and alcohol counseling to students if self-referred. McCracken said the transition time from high school to college could be a time of increased alcohol consumption, even though she said the percentage of students who binge drink at CSU is low.

"The majority (of students) are moderate drinkers," McCracken said. "We are more concerned with high-risk drinking versus binge drinking and what's happening to a person as a result of consumption."

The first six weeks of college can be the most important in a student's college career because this is when drinking patterns are established and there is more potential for excessive alcohol consumption to interfere with adaptation to campus life, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.

Nate Koldenhoven, freshman business administration major, does not think his drinking pattern changed when he came to college.

"I started off at an early age," Koldenhoven said. "My tolerance has gone up though."

Koldenhoven said he drinks simply because it is enjoyable, not because he needs to relieve stress or relax.

"I live in the dorms and that's all there is to do," Koldenhoven said. "I'm a pretty easy-going guy. I don't need alcohol to relax me."

McCracken said that another reason students may drink is to fit in.

"Alcohol can be used in a social aspect," said McCracken. "It lessens inhibitions so you have more courage to talk to people and dance. It's the question of 'Do I need alcohol to fit in?'"

Freshman Alyssa Coville agrees that drinking is a big social aspect of college.

"From the parties I've been to, it's a huge social aspect," said Coville, a biology and zoology double major. "(Students) don't have a reason not to (drink). It's illegal, but that's not that strong of a deterrent."

Coville personally does not drink because she feels that she might have an addictive personality, even though she acknowledges that many other students drink because there oftentimes is not anything else available to do.

"I don't feel the need to party anymore," said Coville. "I've started going to church again, and it just seems wrong to me."

Whatever the reasons students may have to drink, the decision remains personal and varies from student to student.

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