Statement of the Research Topic and Importance
This chapter examines the effects of alcohol on academic performance among college students by a review of the literature concerning the trends, risk factors, psychosocial and educational impacts. The chapter looks at the current alcohol situation within the college set up. More so, it examines the driving factors contributing to alcoholism among college students. Further, the chapter explores the association between addiction and psychological distress and coping mechanisms. The chapter ends with a look at the effects of alcoholism on academic performance. In each scenario, the section identifies the limitations and existing gaps in the methodology and result of the reviewed studies necessitating for more research. The analysis will present important insights into alcohol consumption among college students, and identify gaps that will facilitate in depth research to expand the knowledge on the subject.
Summary of Past Research
Alcoholism Trends and Risk Factors among College Students
Krieger, Young, Anthenien, & Neighbors (2014) conducted one of the most extensive studies on alcoholism among college students in 2014. The research aimed at summarizing the studies identifying factors associated with binge drinking in young adults. In this case, Binge drinking defines consumption of five beers in men and four in women within a two hours period (Krieger et al., 2014). The reviewed studies revealed some trends in binge drinking rates. The Monitoring the Future showed that between 2005 and 2014, 14% of college students reported consuming at least ten drinks on one occasion within two weeks (Krieger et al., 2014). The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration National Survey on Drug Use and Health showed that binge drinking decreased from 44.6% in 1988 to 37.7% in 2014 among youth aged 18 to 25 years (Krieger et al., 2014). Also, the Core Alcohol and Drug Abuse survey revealed students reporting binge drinking in the past two weeks decreased from 45.9% to 43.9% in 2013 (Krieger et al., 2014). The reviewed nationwide and longitudinal studies indicate that alcoholism is a widespread phenomenon among students.
More so, the study showed the developmental and social factors associated to binge drinking include moving out of a parental home, going to college, peer influence, membership to groups such as college fraternities, athletics, and the military. Besides, it emerged that the risk factors associated to binge drinking include drinking events such as the 21st birthday, abuse of other substances, and drinking as a coping measure (Krieger et al., 2014). The scholars suggest that further studies to identify prevention and intervention efforts against binge drinking for young adults would help in shaping alcohol policies.
Building on the Krieger et al. (2014) study, Parker and Anthony sought to find out whether there was a relationship between alcoholism and abuse of prescription medicines. The 2018 research by Parker & Anthony focused on recently active underage alcohol dependence as a susceptibility marker and estimated alcohol dependence related to opioid prescription pain relievers (PPR) rates of use. The study hypothesized there would be an underrepresentation in alcohol dependence cases among young people who abuse PPRs a single time and never use it a second time and overrepresentation among consistent abusers (Parker & Anthony, 2018). In data analysis, the zero-inflated Poisson (ZIP) regression was used to estimate alcohol dependence association with susceptibility-to-persist after the first occasion of extra-medical use of PPR and the rate of PPR use conditional on persistency (Parker & Anthony, 2018).
Parker & Anthony study results showed that underage drinkers with a dependence on alcohol are more susceptible to the extra-medical persistent use of PPR. Further, findings indicate that recent active alcohol dependence among underage drinkers a mark of susceptibility that may help account for extra-medical PPR use once it starts (Parker & Anthony, 2018). More so, underage alcohol-dependent drinkers emerge as higher users of extra-medical PPR due to their vulnerability to persistent use (Parker & Anthony, 2018). The study recommends that for alcoholic dependent underage patients, it is advisable they get nondrug pain management plans or high surveillance under PPR prescriptions. The researchers suggest future studies to explore the relationship between alcoholism and other drugs such as cannabis and cocaine and short-term follow-up intervals in case of extra-medical use of PPRs.
Villarosa & Madson (2014) set out to test the assumption that social anxiety is a predisposition factor for alcoholism. In the 2014 study, they examined the degree to which the motives of drinking mediate the relationship between social anxiety symptoms and alcohol-related behaviors. The study involved 532 undergraduate students aged between 18 and 25 who had consumed alcohol within the past 30 days (Villarosa & Madson, 2014). Participants completed measures via a secure website measuring social anxiety symptoms through the Mattick and Clarke's Social Interaction Anxiety Scale and Social Phobia Scale. Further, drinking motives were assessed by a 28 item Modified Drinking Motive Questionnaire while alcohol consumption was measured using a Daily Drinking Questionnaire (Villarosa & Madson, 2014). Moreover, to measure harmful drinking patterns, the Alcohol Use Disorders and Identification Test came was helpful, and the Rutgers Alcohol Problem Index assessed the negative consequences of drinking. Data analysis utilized the Structure Equation Model (SEM) framework due to its ability to account for shared variance with multiple mediators (Villarosa & Madson, 2014).
Results showed that students with high social anxiety symptoms had more harmful drinking and negative consequences but not necessarily greater alcohol consumption (Villarosa & Madson, 2014). Besides, it emerged that if placed in a social context for drinking, the student with social anxiety symptoms is more likely to consume alcohol to experience positive mood. However, the drinking motive failed to show a mediating relationship between social anxiety and alcohol consumption. The study occurred in a single institution, which limits the results generalization. Another limitation is that the majority of the participants were white females. Lastly, since the study was cross-sectional, it prevents the causal inferences from being made hence future studies can employ longitudinal designs. Therefore, there is the need for more research on how the drinking context relates to social anxiety, drinking motives, and drinking patterns.
One of the most debatable assumptions about college drinking is that academic pressure is a causative factor. In their 2011 study, Butler, Spencer, & Dodge (2011) observe the association between the academic demands and college-student alcohol consumption by the use of daily survey design. The methodology involved the examination of every day, the previous day and next day data relationships between educational requirements and alcohol consumptions throughout three weeks. Academic demands included having a paper, exam, and projects due in a particular day (Butler et al., 2011). The prediction was that present-day alcohol consumption would negatively affect next day's academic demands. Besides, the scholars examined if the day of the week moderated the relationship between educational requirements and alcohol consumption. The study involved 283 full-time students in a state university aged about 20 years, 62% of them women and 94% white (Butler et al., 2011). Respondents completed an internet-based survey on their alcohol consumption and daily experiences for 21 consecutive days. Alcohol consumption was modelled using Poisson distribution and log transformation.
It emerged that having an academic activity the current day had a negative relationship to alcohol consumption. The result indicates academic demands limit alcoholism (Butler et al., 2011). Thus, increasing academic demands may reduce the free time and increase efforts towards educational activity. Results showed a null and negative relationship between the previous day's and current day's academic demands and alcohol consumption contradicting the stress-related drinking perspective (Butler et al., 2011). The findings by Butler et al. may be explained by a research conducted by where a majority of the students revealed that they are unable to read their books, concentrate during a lecture, or communicate effectively after consuming alcohol (Jairus et al., 2017). Therefore, alcohol avoidance in the event of academic demands may be a strategy to avert poor grades. Butler et al. (2011) do not provide insights into what levels of educational requirements may mostly lead to alcohol consumption. Besides, it would be insightful to collect data across the academic term and over the long run. Moreover, scholars encourage further research on whether raising academic standards can influence drinking over the weekends and on whether observed relationships can be generalized across institutions and diverse groups.
Association of Alcoholism and Psychological Distress
There is no shortfall on the studies postulating a trajectory between alcoholism, psychological distress and negative consequences. According to Krieger et al., (2014), the emotional and social outcomes of binge drinking include depression, anxiety, poor interpersonal relations while the most common cognitive result is blacking out (Krieger et al., 2014). On the other hand, the consequences of binge drinking include increased risk for physical harm like rape, insomnia, and delinquency that increase vulnerability to post-traumatic disorders. It becomes essential then to examine this negative relationship and the coping strategies available.
Deasy, Coughlan, Pironom, Jourdan, & Mcnamara (2014) focus on lifestyle and its relationship with psychological distress and coping among students enrolled in higher studies. The study sought to understand the extent to which multiple risk behaviors such as substance abuse, physical activity, and diet aggregate and how they relate to psychological distress and coping in higher education. They used a cross-sectional study design among a sample of 1577 undergraduate students of nursing midwifery and education teaching (Deasy et al., 2014). Data was collected using a combination of the General Health Questionnaire (GHQ), the Ways of Coping Questionnaire (WOC), and the Lifestyle Behavior Questionnaire (LBQ) (Deasy et al., 2014). Psychological distress was measured using the GHQ and validated using a self-report measure. The WOC helped to identify thoughts and actions used by participants to cope with a particularly stressful situation. The LBQ instrument combined Likert, open and closed questions on demographics and social attributes regarding diet, exercise, substance use, and sexuality (Deasy et al., 2014). Data were analyzed using the SPSS with the multiple correspondence analysis (MCA) used to examine the patterns of relationships of the different variables relating to the lifestyles behaviors.
Results revealed a high prevalence of risk behaviors with 93.2% consuming alcohol, 26.3% consuming unhealthy diets, 26% not having any physical activity, 17% smoking tobacco, 11.6% using marijuana, and 41.9% indicating they were stressed (Deasy et al., 2014). Importantly, the group with risk behaviors had high psychological stress and used passive coping strategies like avoidance. According to the scholars, the risk behavior, mental stress, and poor coping strategies show a need to enhance student's resilience since they are the future nurses and teachers. The study is limited design wise due to...
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