Binge Drinking: A Way to Have Fun or an Unhealthy Coping Skill?

Happy Spring Break! After finishing a tough quarter, many of us are feeling the urge to relax this spring break. Some of us may be going home or visiting with friends we haven’t seen lately. Others may be celebrating passing classes and finishing finals. Binge drinking is one way that many students say they relax and have fun on spring break. In fact, up to 44% of female and 75% of male college students report that they binge drink. Binge drinking is defined as excessive drinking over a short period of time, and its often referred to as “drinking to get drunk.”

Students report that they binge drink for a lot of different reasons: to have fun, to unwind or de-stress, to deal with loneliness or the transition to college, to fit in, or to get rid of social anxiety and feel confident. Recent research indicates that often, binge drinking is used as a form of unhealthy emotion regulation, or a way to get rid of negative feelings.  Binge drinking is considered an unhealthy strategy because it doesn’t change or get rid of the underlying situation that caused the negative feelings in the first place, and it can cause harm to your body and make you feel sick. Binge drinking has been shown to be related to unintentional injury, assault, increased risk for suicide, and alcohol-related health problems.

Spring break is a time to relax, take a break, and connect with family and friends, so skip the hangover and try one of these activities instead:

  • Volunteer in your community or church
  • Go for a hike with friends
  • Check out a new park
  • Take a class that’s always interested you (cooking, photography, yoga, anything!)
  • Plan a stay-cation and be a tourist in the city
  • Treat yourself to a massage

If alcohol will be involved in your spring break plans, make sure you are making the best choices for yourself and drinking safely. Drink lots of water, plan how much you want to drink before going out (use this BAC calculator to help!), make sure you have a safe way to get home, and count your drinks accurately.

If you are worried that your drinking is getting out of control or you are using alcohol to cope, its okay to ask for help. The Student Counseling Center has a number of great resources. If you are worried about a friend who may be struggling with drinking, consider reaching out to them and offering support.



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