Relieving stress is a nature and healthy thing for all individuals to do. After a stressful situation it is only natural to want to blow off some steam. For many this involves a stiff drink at the end of the week and celebration. The culmination of hard work deserves a treat. For students in college the end of exam week is prime time. It can often become an endless happy hour that involves over-consuming alcohol and binge drinking. The major problem with this stress reliever is that it often hinders growth or even stress. Alcohol abuse is repeatedly connected to low test scores and rapidly declining GPAs. Alcohol Abuse and Students There is statistical research that proves that students who use alcohol as a stress reliever have a much higher risk for alcohol-related problems than those who do not. Students who use alcohol as a coping mechanism for stress are more likely to encounter various problems regarding alcohol abuse. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) states from recorded data that the more alcohol a student consumes the lower their GPA will slip. A student with an A average consumes on average 3.3 alcoholic drinks per week. A student who drinks nine or more alcoholic drinks per week maintains a D or even F average. These reports have been studied and supported by the University of Portland. In their study, students who have consumed alcohol 30 days prior to an exam have more trouble because their ability to think abstractly is distorted. The study also found that decision-making abilities can also be affected up to 30 days after consumption of alcohol. Medical research has proven that the human brain is not fully developed until the ripe age of 25; therefore any amount of alcohol consumed can have great consequences. The development of the frontal lobe (planning, making decisions, and self-control) can have drastic long-term repercussions. Over consuming alcohol after exams may not cause permanent damage to the front lobes, but it can set in motion a pattern to alcohol abuse disorder. The best thing to do is find a healthy way to reduce stress and reward yourself for good, hard work. Alcohol Free Activities Go Cart Racing Go cart racing is exciting and great bonding experience for a group of friends. Today’s go carts are not the ones of the past and move very fast; requiring professional tutorials and expert supervision. This activity is not conducive with alcohol consumption at all. There is great fun in competing against friends to win first place and alcohol would only diminish your ability to brag about being the best driver. Other Recreational Sports Playing a team sport like baseball, basketball, volleyball, or football are all activities that are great without alcohol. There are not too many things that can make you feel great about yourself than hitting a homerun, draining a three, spiking it, or scoring a touchdown. Plus, inattentiveness from drinking will end up cost you and your team mates the victory. Alcohol Abuse and Addiction Statistics Alcohol has contributed to 88,000 deaths in 2014. Misuse of alcohol had cost the U.S. $223.5 billion, nearly three quarters of which were caused by binge drinking. Underage drinking is another cause for concern, in 2012 it was reported that 9.3 million people between the ages of 12-20 had consumed alcohol. Underage and problem drinking is a cause of brain damage, leading cause of injuries, sexual assaults, and deaths. College students have a higher chance of drinking, binge drinking, and heavy drinking. In a 2012 study: 60.3% of college students compared to the 51.9% of non-college students drank alcohol, 40.1% of the students binge drank, and 14.4% of the college students were considered heavy drinkers. Research of the same year released the consequences of alcohol abuse: 1,825 alcohol related injuries, 696,000 were assaulted, 97,000 were sexually assaulted or date raped, approximately 20% of college students meet the criteria to have AUD, and one in four reported a negative effect alcohol has on their school work.