What Are Some of the Consequences of Using Alcohol?
If you drink before you are 21, you may face legal and academic consequences both on and off campus. Because alcohol impairs your mental and physical responses, driving under the influence (DUI) increases your chances of a traffic violation or crash and harming yourself or others.
Alcohol can have significant consequences for people who choose to drink and those around them. According to CollegeDrinkingPrevention.gov each year:
- 1,825 college students die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.
- 696,000 students are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
- More than half of all sexual assaults on college campuses [pdf] involve alcohol consumption by the perpetrator, victim, or both.
- About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.
In its fact sheet Alcohol Use and Your Health, the CDC lists the following short- and long-term consequences of drinking:
Short-Term Health Risks
Excessive alcohol use has immediate effects that increase the risk of many harmful health conditions. These are most often the result of binge drinking and include the following:
- Injuries, such as motor vehicle crashes, falls, drownings, and burns.
- Violence, including homicide, suicide, sexual assault, and intimate partner violence.
- Alcohol poisoning, a medical emergency that results from high blood alcohol levels.
- Risky sexual behaviors, including unprotected sex or sex with multiple partners. These behaviors can result in unintended pregnancy or sexually transmitted diseases, including HIV.
- Miscarriage and stillbirth or fetal alcohol spectrum disorders (FASDs) among pregnant women.
Long-Term Health Risks
Over time, excessive alcohol use can lead to the development of chronic diseases and other serious problems including:
- High blood pressure, heart disease, stroke, liver disease, and digestive problems.
- Cancer of the breast, mouth, throat, esophagus, liver, and colon.
- Learning and memory problems, including dementia and poor school performance.
- Mental health problems, including depression and anxiety.
- Social problems, including lost productivity, family problems, and unemployment.
- Alcohol dependence, or alcoholism.
By not drinking too much, you can reduce the risk of these short- and long-term health risks.