UT study links alcohol to isolation and lower grades

Alex Niver Raisch

While some students use drinking as a form of socialization, a UT study has found that alcohol use in teens may hinder rather than fuel a fun night out.

In a study funded in part by the UT Population Research Center, sociology professor Robert Crosnoe and assistant human development professor Aprile Benner measured the attitudes of 8,271 students in grades seven to 12 in 126 schools who were exposed to drinking. Benner said although this is just one study, the results contradict common notions about partying. In one instance, the study found a correlation between the students who drank regularly and the ones who reported feelings of loneliness. It also found that students who reported drinking alcohol had lower grade point averages.

The strongest correlation was seen between those who drank regularly at school where alcohol use was not common by their peers.

“Our findings definitely point to real holes in the notion that drinking will somehow make you more popular,” Benner said.

Regarding how this study pertains to UT students and incoming freshman, Benner said students should think twice before they resort to drinking as a way to get popular or fit in with the crowd.

“The transition to college is already tough, especially as freshman try to find their niche and where they fit in at this very large university. The idea that drinking is going to help these entering students make social connections, at least according to our work, seems unlikely.”

Ivana Grahovac, UT Center for Students in Recovery director, said alcohol addiction treatment requires a holistic approach. The recovery center helps UT students treat their alcohol addiction through group therapy and other methods.

“This study further proves why now more than ever we need to support programs that model sobriety and holistic wellness as a way of life, and to continue supporting the students whom these programs serve,” Grahovac said. “Your life will improve dramatically if you change the way you relate to yourself and the world around you, and removing the symptom of alcohol use is the entryway to learning this way of life.”

Accounting senior Emily Kong said she disagreed with the notion that students who drink are more likely to be lonely and social outcasts.

“During my six semesters at UT, I found that those who don’t drink are more likely to feel lonely or like outcasts because they don’t fit into the ‘college norm,’” Kong said. “It makes sense that there’s a correlation with drinkers and low academic achievement, because drinkers spend more time drinking than studying.”