Alcohol and Academic Performance | AspenRidge Recovery

The interplay between alcohol consumption and academic performance in young adults presents a multifaceted picture. A study by Huerta and Borgonovi (2010) uncovers a startling correlation: higher educational attainment often goes hand-in-hand with increased chances of daily alcohol use and problem drinking, particularly in females. This trend is even more pronounced among individuals who excelled academically during childhood, indicating a significant risk of alcohol abuse in this group.

In a broader context, excessive drinking during adolescence and early adulthood can hinder the accumulation of human capital, which is crucial for long-term educational and economic success. Intoxication can disrupt learning processes, class attendance, and study time allocation, directly impacting academic performance.

Crosnoe and Riegle-Crumb (2007) provide a longitudinal perspective, noting a reversal in the association between academic status and drinking behavior across the transition to young adulthood. While high academic achievers in high school tend to drink less, this pattern changes post-high school, suggesting a shift in social and environmental influences.

Lastly, early adolescence’s perception of academic failure is linked to increased alcohol use in mid-adolescence. This connection underscores the impact of self-perception and academic self-esteem on substance use behaviors.

Overall, these studies paint a nuanced picture of how alcohol consumption intertwines with academic performance, influenced by a blend of individual attributes, social norms, and developmental stages.

Impact of Excessive Drinking on Educational Goals

The consequences of excessive drinking on educational aspirations among young adults are both profound and multifaceted. Staff et al. (2008) present compelling evidence showing that heavy alcohol use at age 16 significantly undermines the attainment of postsecondary educational credentials by age 42, particularly among males. This detrimental effect is most pronounced in males from working-class backgrounds, revealing how early alcohol abuse can derail long-term educational aspirations.

In a broader educational context,

Lorant et al. (2013) investigate how the college environment itself influences students’ drinking behaviors. They find that exposure to certain college environments increases the risk of heavy, frequent, and abusive drinking.

This behavior, in turn, negatively impacts students’ educational achievements, suggesting that the college atmosphere plays a critical role in shaping students’ alcohol consumption patterns and, consequently, their academic success.

Furthermore, DeMartini et al. (2018) delve into the cognitive aspects of this issue, examining how goal setting during alcohol treatment relates to educational goals. Their findings indicate that young adults who set more ambitious goals for reducing drinking tend to have better educational outcomes. This link underscores the importance of goal-oriented strategies in mitigating the adverse effects of excessive drinking on education.

Latvala et al. (2014) also contribute to this understanding by showing that alcohol use and smoking behaviors in early adolescence predict lower educational achievement in later life. This relationship highlights how early substance use poses a significant risk for future educational outcomes, emphasizing the need for early intervention.

Taken together, these studies underscore the complex relationship between excessive alcohol consumption and educational goals among young adults. They reveal how early drinking behaviors can have long-lasting effects on educational attainment, mediated by factors such as individual goal setting, the influence of the college environment, and the onset of substance use behaviors in adolescence.


  1. Austin, W. A. (2010). The effects of alcohol use on school enrollment. Journal of Economics and Economic Education Research, 10, 13.
  2. Benner, A., Kretsch, N., Harden, K., & Crosnoe, R. (2014). Academic achievement as a moderator of genetic influences on alcohol use in adolescence. Developmental psychology, 50(4), 1170-8.
  3. Bergen, H., Martin, G., Roeger, L., & Allison, S. (2005). Perceived academic performance and alcohol, tobacco and marijuana use: longitudinal relationships in young community adolescents. Addictive behaviors, 30(8), 1563-73.
  4. Crosnoe, R., & Riegle-Crumb, C. (2007). A life course model of education and alcohol use. Journal of Health and Social Behavior, 48, 267-282.
  5. DeMartini, K. S., Foster, D. W., Corbin, W., Fucito, L. M., Romano, D. M., Leeman, R. F., Kranzler, H. R., & O’Malley, S. S. (2018). Drinking goals and attainment in a naltrexone trial of young adult heavy drinkers. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 86, 765–774.
  6. Huerta, M., & Borgonovi, F. (2010). Education, alcohol use and abuse among young adults in Britain. Social science & medicine, 71(1), 143-51.
  7. Latvala, A., Rose, R. J., Pulkkinen, L., Dick, D. M., Korhonen, T., & Kaprio, J. (2014). Drinking, smoking, and educational achievement: cross-lagged associations from adolescence to adulthood. Drug and alcohol dependence, 137, 106-13.
  8. Lorant, V., Nicaise, P., Soto, V. E., & D’hoore, W. (2013). Alcohol drinking among college students: college responsibility for personal troubles. BMC Public Health, 13, 615-615.
  9. Rai, K. K., & Vandana. (2022). Role of life-skills and attitude toward alcohol abuse in predicting academic achievement of school students. Journal of Education and Health Promotion, 11.
  10. Staff, J., Patrick, M. E., Loken, E., & Maggs, J. L. (2008). Teenage alcohol use and educational attainment. Journal of studies on alcohol and drugs, 69(6), 848-58.

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