Education Level and Substance Abuse

Education helps people to learn skills and develop perceptions of risk. Students in high school are taught basic, but essential information about health that can educate them about the serious health implications of using drugs and alcohol. However, the effectiveness of school-based drug and alcohol education programs is unknown. Measuring education level against drug or alcohol use is controversial and fails to take into consideration socioeconomic, psychological or physiological factors which all play a major part in substance abuse problems.

Education Influences Substance Abuse Levels

Education level has been found to have an impact on the risk of drug or alcohol abuse. One particular study from 2004 in Copenhagen included over 30,000 men and women aged 20-93 and measured schooling level, smoking, alcohol use and obesity. This study found that those with the lowest level of schooling were most frequently heavy smokers, heavy drinkers and the most physically inactive. Similarly, it has been reported that nearly half of all clients in treatment for drug or alcohol abuse in 2001 never went to school or only completed primary school. These results suggest that education level may have some influence on those who would abuse alcohol and drugs, but it is not a definite indicator. The majority of people who do not have high levels of education do not go on to abuse drugs and alcohol.

Students and Binge Drinking

Binge drinking is defined as the excessive consumption of alcohol at harmful levels over a short periods of time. Statistically, binge drinking is more likely to occur within college or university students. In this instance, the higher level of education influences the participation in harmful and high risk activities. Data reveals that 44 per cent of students attending 4 year courses typically drink alcohol at binge level or greater. College or university students are also more likely to binge and drink heavily than their peers who are not attending higher education.

Binge drinking is a chronic problem at universities and colleges. Young people often incorrectly believe that they need to participate in binge drinking to fit in. Bars, clubs and social groups often encourage this dangerous behavior by organizing or offering discounts on drinks, weekend long parties or events that encourage excessive consumption. Peer pressure, low self esteem and the need to connect with friends all contribute to this dangerous activity.

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