There is no doubt that drinking on college campuses is widespread. Whether it be at parties, tailgates, bars, or other events, alcohol can be easily found in a seemingly endless supply. Throw in the fact that many students are away from home, and their parents, for the first time in their lives, and this can quickly become a huge problem.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has recognized the issues that the consumption of alcohol can bring about, and has made it its mission to discover and share information in this field. The NIAAA is one of the 27 institutes that make up the National Institutes of Health (NIH), and it is the largest supporter of alcohol research in the world.

The NIAAA put together a comprehensive website that aims to educate college students and the general public about some of the risks that drinking alcohol can pose. The website also provides a directory that contains many colleges’ alcohol policies. While each college has its own individual alcohol policy, there are many codes of conduct that they all have in common.

Most college alcohol policies prohibit the consumption of alcohol on campus altogether. Colleges are aware of the dangers of this substance and the ban is a way of reducing the risk of fights, vandalism, crimes, sexual assaults, injuries, and even death. While the policy can prevent legal consumption of alcohol on campus, it cannot reach beyond these limits.

Excessive drinking, known as binge drinking, is a common problem at house parties, fraternities, tailgates, and bars. It causes noticeable impairments in mental function and decision-making, and can cause the user to make poor choices and display bad judgement. Alcohol consumption can lead to academic problems, suicide attempts, drunk-driving, assault, and acquaintance rape. High doses of alcohol can cause mental confusion, vomiting, respiratory problems, or even death. If mixed with prescription pills or other drugs, these risks only increase.

In order to provide help and support, most colleges and universities now offer various services and programs to students whose alcohol consumption may be causing legal, psychological, physical, social, or academic problems. These programs often include substance abuse assessments, outreach, education, as well as counseling.

Reaching out for help is the first step in being able to fix the problem. By asking for support, students are acknowledging that they are ready to make a positive change in their lives and are strong enough to succeed.