The shocking truth about university drinking

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Young person thinkingThe start of the college and university year for many teens and young adults marks their first foray into the world of post-secondary education. It’s a heady experience, for first year students especially, as they trade the high school scene for the “grown up” environment of campus life. Of course this experience is even more intense for those who live in residence and away from parents and home. Unfortunately, a large part of this experience is the expected and encouraged consumption of large amounts of alcohol. A move into college or university life is seen as a rite of passage, and pub crawls, keg parties, and fraternity and sorority initiations have long been accepted as part and parcel of that process. You only have to watch the classic movie “Animal House” to see the cultural connection between student life and alcohol consumption.

In the US, it is estimated that about 36 college students a year die from alcohol-related circumstances. In Canada, two students died at Queens University in 2010, another died in the fall of 2012 at Acadia University, and a riot at Fanshaw College was linked directly to alcohol consumption. Unfortunately, alcohol consumption is also linked to campus sexual assaults, physical assaults, health emergencies, and property damage. In one survey study, 32% of the respondents stated that they drank heavily at least once a month. That’s a whole lot of drinking going on!

Universities in Canada have been responding to this situation in the last six years, attempting to change the on-campus culture that celebrates excessive alcohol consumption. Some of the steps they have taken include:

  • Outright banning or controlling the amount of alcohol permitted in dorms or on residence
  • Banning the consumption of alcohol in campus common areas
  • Controlling liquor sales at student pubs and limiting the number of non-student guests permitted in these establishments
  • Developing programs with student mentors that are intended to educate and raise awareness among the student body at large
  • Introducing stricter rules for fraternities and sororities and their new member initiation rituals.

These efforts along with an increasing awareness among students about the risks of excessive drinking may help create a positive shift and lead to lower levels of alcohol-related incidents on university and college campuses.


Acknowledging that your teen may be dealing with an alcohol issue is not easy. Connect with a counsellor to create a plan for positive change. 1 866 833-7690 WorkHealthLife

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