College living and the party hardy mentality

College is a time when students come face to face with peer pressure and its consequences. With binge drinking and marijuana use becoming more prevalent on college campuses around the country, it is more important than ever for students to know the dangers of partaking in hazardous activities.
Drinking can lead to sexually promiscuous behaviors, can increase immune system deficiencies and have fatal consequences. Chronic marijuana use, five or more joints a week, can lead to lower IQ scores, less motivation and delayed responses. This in turn can cause some students to lose sight of their priorities.
Graduate Nursing Coordinator Lucie Agosta said, “You get the loss of coordination and reasoning when you inhale marijuana. The high is a state of euphoria just like alcohol.”
In a paper titled “Social Status and Binge Drinking,” author and sociologist Carolyn Hsu found that students of lower socio-economic statues who binge drink claimed their collegiate experience was more satisfying compared to their peers who didn’t drink.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking is considered five or more drinks on a single occasion for men, and four or more for women, within two hours. The liver can only metabolize one drink an hour. One drink is five ounces of wine, 12 ounces of beer and one and a half ounce of 80-proof liquor.
“That’s like a real glass of wine, not a big glass, a can of beer and a shot of alcohol. That’s a lot less than people typically realize a drink is. So one can actually get to the level of binge drinking pretty quickly,” said DeAnn Johnson, assistant professor of psychology.
The stress of tests, home life and work can be a lot for students to handle when they first start as freshmen, but drinking is not the answer. Alcohol may make us feel invincible, sociable and relaxed, but it is a depressant, not a stimulant.
“Disinhibitions are the biggest factor in the effects that alcohol has because a person is not making good decisions, and they’re not aware that they’re not making good decisions,” said Johnson.
The legal blood alcohol content is .08 percent, which is around 2-4 drinks. At this level, a person has reached binge-drinking behavior. Reaction time is slowed, muscle control and speech are impaired, and there is a loss of self-control.
Individuals between the ages of 18 and 23 do not have a fully developed frontal lobe, the area of our brain controlling our important decision making and problem solving. Though, according to Johnson, some students can party in moderation simply because of the varying range of maturity in college students.
“From a psychological standpoint, the frontal lobe is not even fully developed when kids start college. It won’t until the mid-twenties. So they are doing immature decision making. It’s not a knock; it’s a fact,” Johnson said. “However, some students are just more mature than their cohorts, so it’s a varying capacity. From a psychosocial standpoint, you’re seeing students trying to be accepted and assert their autonomy.”
The negative physical effects can be just as harmful in the future as they can in the present.
“You can develop high blood pressure and damage to your heart muscles, also nerve damage and depression can develop as well,” Agosta said. “Over time, it is almost an insult to your immune system. You may find yourself becoming ill very frequently, having fatigue and constantly being exhausted. It’s from not sleeping enough or not eating right, and these symptoms result from the partying lifestyle.”
Students should consider the consequences of the partying lifestyle before pouring their next drink or rolling their next joint.
“Having someone who is not under the influence of anything is a great idea. They are the decision makers,” Johnson said. “When you inhibit your frontal lobe, your taking away that control you have over yourself. The more you know, the more the message slowly seeps in, and then can it affect behavior. That’s the real truth, is how knowledge effects behavior.”