Coping With Alcoholism As A Student

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Call our local number 01603 513 091
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Call our local number 01603 513 091
Request Call Back

How Do You Cope With Alcoholism As A Student?

Coping with alcoholism as a student can seem daunting especially if you do not have the support needed to go through this condition. In most cases addiction in students could be as a result of peer pressure that spirals out of control, or the new found freedom away from parents.

Alcohol addiction in college students affects millions of students every year. According to the National institute of drug abuse, at least 52.5% of students engaged in binge drinking in the year 2019. (1)

College years are the most popular times for young adults to experiment with alcoholism. In most cases, this becomes the start of alcohol abuse.

Binge drinking in college students involves taking too much alcohol within a short period of time. Most college students admit to having taken alcohol almost everyday while they were in college.

Now, after graduating, a former college student who has been exposed to alcohol use for the past four or so years, will find it hard to stop drinking.

The newfound freedom and independence now fuels their full blown substance abuse problem that can quickly lead to negative consequences of substance use.

While in school they used alcohol for fun, but now at home they will use alcohol to cope with life's issues such as stress, relationships, depression, strange feelings of not being at campus, etc.

Binge Drinking vs Alcoholism

People often confuse the terms "Binge Drinking" and "Alcoholism" since they're both related to alcohol problems. However, what makes them different from one another? 

Occasional alcohol use isn't bad for people who want to enjoy a drinking session with their friends and family.

However, prolonged alcohol consumption has the possibility of causing negative consequences, such as cravings for alcohol, mental health issues, and others. 

Frequent alcohol consumers have wondered at least once in their life whether they can be considered alcoholics or not.

How Does College Life Fuel Addiction?

Very Subtly. Through parties, your friends are doing it, so why now? You are in college now, and college students don't answer to anyone. Alcohol and more alcohol gives you freedom.

Some will say that they can exercise self control when drinking and since parents are not around, this is the perfect opportunity to enjoy life.

You won't even know as young adults that you are using alcohol as a coping mechanism, until it reaches a point where a family member will point out your heavy drinking, or you realized that alcohol consumption has taken over your life.

There are many problems associated with drinking. Some of these include;

  • The risk of alcohol poisoning, which is common in college students and it is fatal.
  • Mental health disorders - substance abuse can lead to some severe mental health issues such as stress and depression.
  • Real consequences of alcohol abuse such as an inability to complete your studies for students and the inability to control your actions.
  • Drugs - when inebriated, you are capable of doing almost anything, and as students you may try taking drugs at the same time, which can put you at great risk of fatal accidents.
  • Affecting your personal and professional relationships.
  • Spending too much money going through alcohol addiction treatment and alcohol withdrawal.

Unfortunately, before you know it, alcohol abuse sets in, and college students are now out in the world where there is even more freedom.

This is where it all starts. It is important for the institutions to have individual counseling for each college student so they can help them understand that there are other helpful resources to use as coping mechanism and that using alcohol to cope with college life is never an option.

When stress setts in, a person should seek therapy and other resources, where they get to talk about what they expect from their lives. For example, a person suffering from relationships and stress related issues, must be provided with therapists access.

If you are currently suffering from alcohol use disorders and need help. Call Abbeycare now on 01603 513 091.

We will provide a safe environment for you to go through alcohol use disorder treatment. For people struggling with excessive drinking, you are at high risk of developing other conditions associated with alcoholism.

You need urgent care and support. These disorders will only make your life harder. Abbeycare will provide you with a mental health professional who will help assess your alcohol use.

In addition, our treatment options provide a person with a drinking problem the ability to cope with this condition and the hope of beating it in the end.

Not “An Alcoholic” But “Addicted To Alcohol”

Why do people say “alcohol-addicted” instead of “alcoholic”? Because based on neuroscience, drinking a certain amount of alcohol for a certain amount of time changes how your brain behaves. (2)

The chemicals responsible for alcohol poisoning become imbalanced and you become an addict. These are the consequences of abusing alcohol.

Here’s the difference between an alcohol addicted brain versus a normal brain.

If you were born with the genes that predisposed you to alcohol use and addiction, you only need a little bit less of the drink than “normal” people to convert your normal brain to an addicted brain. Your genes are partially to blame.


Why Can’t You Stop?

Because sometimes its not that easy. The combination of genetics predisposing you to alcohol and being surrounded by people who drink, puts you at a higher risk of using alcohol as a coping mechanism, which leads to addiction.

In addition, when you drink heavily, changes happen in your brain. Here is a video if you are interested to know more about the topic.

Essentially, when you drink a lot, the dopamine, serotonin, GABA, and Glutamate pathways are affected. These neural pathways are your reward systems.

They get overstimulated with the presence of too much alcohol. When you take the alcohol away, these pathways malfunction.

Used to being overstimulated, they cannot manage without the drug. They will need time to go back to the level they were functioning before they got overstimulated.

Credit: National Institute of Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services

Credit: National Institute of Health, United States Department of Health and Human Services

The good thing about having a young brain is that your brain still has a chance to repair the damage.

The worst part about drinking before you reach your 20’s is that the experts say you can get addicted easier than when you start drinking as an older person.

  • So is your case that bad? 
  • Are you really addicted? 

If you question yourself, check out: 

Serious Signs That You Have A Problem With Alcohol

  • You drink more alcohol than you really want, and for a longer time than you really want.
  • You spend a lot of time thinking, buying, hiding, and drinking alcohol, than spending time with family and friends.
  • You crave it.
  • You do alcohol binges.
  • You seem to be angry or depressed all the time.
  • You blackout when you drink too much, sometimes.
  • Your grades suck now. Your family is concerned.
  • You use alcohol to deal with stress and other issues you may be going through.
  • If you stop, you feel really bad. You don’t think straight at all, and sometimes you get the shakes.

The signs of alcohol dependence are different for young people than from adults. Experts have identified three stages and these are:

Stage 1

At this stage, you drink too much and longer than you intend to drink. You may feel out-of-control of your drinking.

Stage 2

At this stage, your out-of-control feeling gets worse. Other people are also noticing that you have changed. You could start to have problems in school, you are stressed and you stop socializing.

Usually, at this stage, people around you get worried about you. You also feel sick. There’s a sense that drinking is what makes you feel better, which leads you to…

Stage 3

You know you have a problem and you try to quit drinking. But it seems like your body is not cooperating. When you go cold turkey, withdrawal issues such as stress get worse.

You only feel good when you drink. Drinking resources are easy to find and this is the only option for you.

When you don’t drink, you experience withdrawal symptoms such as headaches, stomach upsets, tremors, stress and even hallucinations (seeing things that aren’t there).

Basically, at stage three, you are in such a big mess!

How Do You Ask For Help?

This is the hardest part. You don’t want to admit it, and you don’t want to ask for help. But you are stressed, people have noticed you are drinking too much, and there aren't many resources at college to help you.

Find help by talking to a professional.

Talking to a professional can help you determine the extent to which you use alcohol as a crutch, and the negative impacts it might be having on you.

They can help you determine whether this is something you might need support in addressing. Abbeycare foundation has a full continuum of care options for adolescents and young adults seeking treatment for alcohol abuse and alcoholism including a medical detox program. Don't stress about it. 

Call now on 01603 513 091.

What To Expect If You Go To Rehab Or Start Detox

If you asked for help and your loved ones come up with the solution that you need professional help, you are likely to go to rehab.

It’s not as bad as it sounds.

In fact, rehab can be a place where you can stop pretending and finally leave all the stress behind. This is the best coping mechanism you shall find.

You can honestly be who you are, and who you are right now sucks pretty bad. There are quite a few people in the same situation you are in, and they don’t like to be judged.

They won’t be judging you either.

Here’s What’s Going To Happen To You If You Go To Rehab


This stage is where the centre evaluates how serious your symptoms are and how to cope with your condition. To do this, they need to run some medical tests. They will usually give you a questionnaire to answer.

There will also be an interview where A doctor or nurse will attend to you and you may be given the blood alcohol concentration (BAC) test.

Medically Assisted Detox

Within a week to ten days (depending on the results of your assessment), you will be monitored by staff while you stop using alcohol.

They can give you medicines such as disulfiram and some type of benzodiazepines to cope with your withdrawal symptoms.

You should be feeling better after the alcohol detox period and able to cope with the next few days to come.


In rehab, there are activities organized by groups such as AA or SMART Recovery. These organizations are called “Mutual Support Groups”. The activities these groups plan are not therapy, but they can be therapeutic.

Getting help

Getting help early can prevent experiencing severe consequences of drinking or disrupting the lives of loved ones. Call our local number 01603 513 091

About the author

Melany Heger

Registered Psychologist and Freelance Writer, Jinjin Melany passionately writes about mental health issues, addiction, eating disorders and parenting since 2015. Read more about Melany on LinkedIn. Content reviewed by Laura Morris (Clinical Lead).

Last Updated: January 18, 2023