Sobering Report on College Drinking

I got this article from Kevin deYoung’s blog over at the Gospel Coalition. He had a lot to say, and I’ll quote the first part of it as well as the article he himself has referenced:

The article is entitled “College Drinking is Liberating, and a Good Excuse.”I’m not sure if the folks at USA Today agree with the title, but it seems that college students certainly do. In the August 22 report, Sharon Jayson maintains that college students drink a lot and there’s not much anyone can do about it.

Colleges trying to stem the tide of student drinking have focused on the evils of intoxication and all the trouble that can ensue when students drink too much. But new psychological research suggests that the downsides of excessive drinking aren’t bad enough to make students stop.

“They intend to get intoxicated,” says psychologist E. Scott Geller, director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems at Virginia Tech.

“We have shown in several studies that their intentions influence their behavior. If they intend to get drunk, it’s difficult to stop that.”

Geller, who has been studying alcohol awareness since the mid-1980s, notes that education hasn’t worked.

“We thought if we could demonstrate to students that their performance deteriorated under alcohol, they would be convinced that their alcohol consumption has put them at risk,” Geller says. But “knowing that one is impaired, physically and even emotionally, did not seem to reduce alcohol consumption.”

Binge drinking is so bad that when researches tried using Breathalyzers at parties and bars it only encouraged students to drink more. No matter how many bad consequences are put in front of students–drunk driving, addictions, unwanted sexual intercourse, unwanted pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases, decreased performance in school–Jayson argues that it just doesn’t offset the two perceived benefits of drinking: it’s liberating and a good excuse.

On the former, students thinking of alcohol as “liquid courage.” It makes them more fun, more adventurous, less tied to inhibitions. On the latter, drinking is seen as a convenient way of avoiding personal responsibility. The sober girl who hooks up with a complete stranger might be considered a slut. But if she’s drunk, then it’s not really a mark on her character; she just had a few too many. Likewise, many students feel justified if they miss class or perform poorly because of a hangover. No matter what people tell them about the possible dangers of drinking, getting drunk, for many college students, is the best way to have fun. And whatever negative consequences may come, these are thought to reflect on the alcohol not on the individual.

I decided to contribute, and this is what I suggested:

Hi Kevin

I enjoyed reading your article and I think there is nothing wrong with what you have said. In my mind, you have addressed the major issues. But I also believe that you have missed the one issue that I think is most important – The ‘why’ college kids drink. Why exactly do they do it?

It seems to me that both the article you referenced and the text you provided address the symptoms of the issue very well. But they don’t ask the question ‘Why do kids feel the need to actually drink to this level? What are they getting from their friends, social status, community etc that makes it worth going out and getting so incredibly drunk?’

I was grabbed by God about 5 years ago, and prior to that my attitude to drinking was it was a panacea to all of my issues. If I was feeling crap, I’d grab a beer. If I had issues with relationships, I’d grab a beer. If I failed a subject because I was hung over, I’d grab a beer. If I was at a wedding and feeling keenly the sense of loneliness that ached to the depth of my soul, I’d grab a beer.

Alcohol was used as a tool, and the results were simply indicative of just how broken I was.

For mine, the issue I feel is most prevalent is what has happened in the 17 years before the student heads to college that has motivated them to damage their bodies in this manner? What are they missing that we haven’t, as a Christian community, identified and tried to raise up Christ as the answer?

As Pascal said, ‘Inside of every man there is a God-shaped vacuum that only God can fill’ and to my way of thinking we, as the Christian community, need to spend the 17 years before the student heads to college showing them that Christ is the only thing that will fill that vacuum.

If that is done successfully, I would certainly think that students heading to college would be much wiser with what and how much they put into their stomachs.

Yours in Christ,


What are your thoughts?


About Drew

Trying to walk in line with the truth of the Gospel
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