Drinking away deadlines


Illustration by LaQuan Davis

Lindsay Miller

Senior political science major, Claire Thomas, frequents bars to help relieve stress during the school year.    

“Bars are fun because you can go out and leave to go to others,” Thomas said. “But a lot of money is usually spent, which causes more stress.”

According to a 2008 study conducted by the Associated Press and mtvU, eight out of every 10 college students said they have sometimes or frequently experienced stress in their daily lives.

The feeling of stress can be attributed to multiple factors in a student’s life — school, work, extra-curricular activities and significant life events.

Associate psychology professor, Jeffrey Ciesla, said different people think of stress in different ways.

“For some, it’s the subjective feeling of not being able to cope with the demands being placed on them,” Ciesla said. “For other people, it’s what causes bad things to happen to them or what we call life events.”

Ciesla said he is unaware of any studies that can positively correlate stress to binge drinking, but binge drinking in college students is more closely related to celebrating and is a conscious decision.

“Most people think of binge drinking as less mediated by distress,” Ciesla said. “When college students go out to binge, it’s more frequently a conscious decision. ‘I’m going to go get wasted.’ ‘It’s Thursday, it’s time to go get drunk.’ It’s a conscious decision to go party and celebrate. I do think that many students will binge the more that they’re under a great deal of distress.”

Ciesla said a person that has just been broken up with will go out with his or her friends and grab a drink and pretty soon he or she is wasted. A major life event, anything that causes the feeling of major distress, could play a role in binge drinking, but Cielsa said it is not the defining factor. Casual drinking doesn’t present itself as an issue, until it becomes a coping mechanism, he said.

“It becomes a coping mechanism when it’s like ‘Oh, I just had the worst day, I want to come home and pop open a beer,’” Ciesla said. “When turning to something to smooth the edges of the day, people get stuck doing that and it becomes their dominant coping style.”

Ciesla said people are more likely to crack open a beer or two when they are feeling stressed.

Senior biology major, Morgan Palombi, said she doesn’t believe stress plays a major role in her drinking habits. Palombi said she doesn’t get stressed because she stays ahead of her work, but goes out to have fun and dance.

“Going out is always going to be a part of student life, whether it be for fun or as a stress reliever,” Palombi said. “I believe alcohol is a way for other students to relax after a week of school.”

For students who find themselves turning to alcohol or drugs during times of stress, Ciesla said to try exercising, finding a hobby or socializing with friends.

There are services on campus students can take advantage of if they feel they need help with their drinking habits. The Division of Enrollment Management and Student Affairs at Kent State offers psychological services to students as well as the psychology department.

Contact Lindsay Miller at [email protected].