By Nwabisa Mlandu
Majority of studies conducted on alcohol abuse have shown the adverse effects it has on people’s lives. In university contexts, multiple studies have been conducted with results indicating that binge drinking is a significant source of affected students’ impaired decision making. Most often, students are aware of the dangers associated with abusing alcohol. Yet, this awareness doesn’t translate to adherence to moderated drinking patterns due to several reasons.
In order to grasp the gravity of this issue, it is essential to note the contributory factors to this problem. Apart from drinking for fun, several other factors suffice as contributory: be it academic stress, chronic loneliness, or unresolved childhood trauma. The university environment can be stressful, to the extent where students abuse alcohol as a coping mechanism or a form of escapism. In this manner, they’re able to be temporarily oblivious to the problems in their lives. However, reality sets in once they’re sober and they are entangled in a cyclical pattern of alcohol abuse. Alcohol abuse entails a gradual change in drinking patterns from moderated to extreme amounts. So, what could start off as infrequent drinking can gradually progress into addiction, leading to students requiring alcohol in order to be functional.
Awareness about healthy coping mechanisms can be helpful in curbing the binge. Alcohol often seems like a cheaper alternative to seeking help. If students are not coping, there are several other avenues to assist them that are not as taxing to their mental health. Firstly, exercise can be a healthier alternative as it has been shown to reduce stress. This can entail a weekly routine of manageable exercises one can do in the comfort of their room. Meditation can be incorporated into these exercises to help with relaxation. Secondly, students can engage in distracting tasks such as cleaning, reading or colouring in a colouring book to help take their minds off their problems. Journalling their thoughts can also prove beneficial as it takes some weight off their shoulders.
These healthier alternatives can be helpful in cases where they’re not ready to face the stressors that trigger their alcohol abuse. However, in cases where students are unable to cope, seeking help from a professional can be most effective. Moreover, these professionals can provide the students with coping mechanisms tailored to suit their lifestyles.