College student drinking affects almost all college campuses. Excessive drinking among students has been linked to death, injury, assault, sexual abuse, unsafe sex, academic problems, and drunk driving. Half of all college students will engage in binge drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has defined binge drinking as 5 or more drinks in a row for men, and 4 or more drinks in a row for women at least once within a two-week period. Student groups who may be particularly vulnerable to binge drinking are: first-year students, students in Greek life, and student athletes.
Effects of Binge Drinking
- Missing classes
- Falling behind on school work
- Driving drunk or getting in the car with an intoxicated driver
- Getting in trouble with campus police
- Physical injury
- Impulsive behavior and impaired decision-making
- Blacking out or forgetting parts of the night
- Alcohol poisoning or loss of consciousness
- Exacerbating mental health concerns that are already present
- Ruined reputations because of embarrassing photos
- Developing a physical and emotional dependence on alcohol
- Impaired cognitive functioning (not only while intoxicated)
Could Your Substance Use Be a Problem?
Because alcohol and other drug use can be quite common among college students, it can sometimes be hard to discern when the amount or frequency of one’s drinking or the effects of one’s drinking are becoming a problem. If you are uncertain about your drinking behaviors or use of other substances, you can ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you drink or use drugs for a quick pick me up?
- Do you drink or use drugs because of boredom?
- Do you drink to the point of "brown or black out"?
- Do you drink or use drugs to fit in?
- Do you sometimes drink or use more than you intended?
- When you drink or use drugs, do you find yourself in situations you later regret?
- Do you sometimes feel guilty about your drinking or drug use?
- Do you become angry or agitated when others mention your drinking or drug use?
- Do you drink or use more than you used to in order to get the same effects?
- Do you find yourself skipping work and classes or putting things off because of drinking/drug use or thinking about it?
- Have you been unsuccessful in cutting down?
- Do you ever drink or use drugs first thing in the morning?
- Do you continue drinking or using despite negative consequences?
If you answered “yes” to one or more of these questions, you can consult with a counselor to find out more. The Counseling Center can help you explore your substance use behaviors and any concerns that you or others may have by scheduling an initial intake session.
Utilize these tips to stay safe and healthy during social activities that may involve alcohol or other substances:
- Have a plan in place for transportation (designated driver, taxi/ride-share, metro, etc.) BEFORE you start drinking.
- Take advantage of non-drinking activities and events.
- Keep track of the amount of drinks or substances you have consumed. Consider downloading an alcohol tracker phone app to help count your drinks.
- Have a meal or snack before drinking alcohol and be sure to consume water throughout the time you are drinking.
- Try activities other than going to parties or bars, such as game-nights, movies, city excursions, group fitness classes, or playing a sport.
- Buddy up while drinking or using substances in order to stay safe.
If you are with someone who may be in danger after drinking or using drugs:
- Stay with the person and monitor their consciousness (ability to wake up) and breathing
- Do not allow the person any more alcohol or substances
- Have the person either sit or lay on their side with support (to prevent rolling over and choking on vomit)
- Call 9-1-1 if the person’s breathing is slow or irregular or if they are short of breath, they cannot keep eye contact or balance, they are slurring their speech, their body temperature is abnormally high or low, or they are not conscious
If you have a pattern of engaging in binge drinking or drinking/using substances with negative consequences or if you believe that seeking services to better understand or change your substance use behavior would be helpful, consider the following services available to UMD students:
- The Counseling Center offers brief individual counseling, which can be helpful to explore or manage substance use concerns. We can tailor services to the varying needs and goals you have, whether you just want to explore your behaviors or you want to reduce your drinking/drug use or seek sobriety. To begin the counseling process, please schedule an intake appointment.
- The Counseling Center care manager can provide assistance with navigating referrals for off-campus treatment, including, if appropriate, inpatient or residential services.
- The Substance Use Intervention and Treatment (SUIT) program at the University Health Center also offers substance assessment and counseling (including group counseling) for UMD students
- The Haven at College Park Recovery Residence is a residential community for UMD students in recovery from substance use concerns. The Haven at College is located at Terrapin Row and offers live-in peer support, counseling sessions, and substance testing.
- The Haven at College Park Outpatient Center is a safe, substance-free socializing space for UMD students in recovery.
- 12-Step Meetings and other recovery-oriented support groups are available to those who would like to change the way they use alcohol. In particular, there are a couple of Alcoholics Anonymous meetings on campus with a strong student presence and many other 12-step meetings and other support groups nearby.
Terps For Recovery
A UMD student organization promoting recovery from addiction and facilitating social connection within the recovery community (email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information)
SAMHSA’s National Helpline
1 (800) 662-HELP
Videos on Managing Substance Abuse from Half of Us
Macklemore on Getting Help
Discussion among College Students about Prescription Pills
Discussion among College Students about Adderall
One-stop resource for information on alcohol abuse and binge drinking among college students.
Brief assessment of drinking behaviors and information about alcohol use.
Comprehensive Guide to Drugs on Campus
Information on addictions, common drugs, sober spaces, treatment, and more for college students
National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence
Facts and prevention tips for college and underage drinking
National Institutes on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Rethinking Drinking: valuable information for taking a look at your drinking habits and how they may affect your health
Resource for College Mental Health
Information on alcohol and other drugs in college students