What effect does religion have on international students drinking habits?
Religion is closely tied to morals and values, and people with high spiritual values usually have a lot more self control than non spiritual people. Based on the available literature, Students who are religious and pray are much more likely to stay away from alcohol and negative drinking habits. According to Lambert, Fincham, Marks, and Stillman (2010) the reasons for this could be that students use religion as a coping mechanism instead of resorting to alcohol or other mood altering substances. They conducted research involving correlation studies with student’s amounts of prayer, and the amount of alcohol they consume. The research discovered that prayer and alcohol use are negatively related. Even the simple act of praying can be used as a simple and effective way of dealing with stress. Ellison, Bradshaw, Rote, Storch and Trevino (2008) found that there is much more literature available concerning the Christian faith and its involvement in drinking habits, as most research has been done in the United States. Although we are aware of no religious group that encourages excessive drinking, there are huge differences apparent in different religions attitudes towards drinking alcohol. Some religions incorporate alcohol into rituals, where as others forbid all alcohol consumption. One way of measuring how much students will adhere to their religious beliefs is monitoring their attendance at “church” or the ethnic equivalent. While attending religious gatherings students are exposed to sermons, texts, religious education classes, and are also exposed to perceived norms regarding drinking within their own religion. Research shows that this can have a very big impact on their conscience. Understandably, young minds are worried about what people from their own ethnic/religious background think of them and feel compelled to conform, or risk being ostracized. Going to church or other ethnic/religious events is a way many students stay connected to their roots and origin. It gives them a connection to home that is lacking for many international students while studying abroad.How does stress affect international students drinking habits?
It is well know that many people use alcohol to cope with stress. Many studies show that international students are under more stress than the local student population, due largely to culture shock. A study done by Park, Armeli and Tennen (2004) Examines stress motivated drinking habits in international students in America. They conducted a study by using a survey that one hundred and twenty seven students filled out every day for twenty eight days. The results showed that students routinely drank more on days that they perceived to have a higher level of stress. They also commented on the fact that individual drinking behaviours are often very different, with many students listing different motivators of drinking, like pursuit of pleasure, increased confidence, and males especially reporting an increase in sexual activity. Another article Sharma(2005) lists stress as one of the main motivators for drinking but cites many others as well. These include “sensation seeking, neuroticism, drinking history, alcohol expectancies, drinking motives, stress, less academic involvement, athletics, involvement in Greek organizations, less religious involvement, participation in drinking games and drinking norms provide greater risk for problematic drinking” *( Sharma, 2005, p 3).
How do international students drinking habits compare to local students drinking habits?
According to Penderson, Labrie, and Hummer (2009) International students are more likely to display high risk drinking behaviors than local students. In order to too test their theory they created a survey that students completed before leaving their country of origin to study. The survey mainly concentrated on their “pre abroad “drinking habits, and “pre abroad “perception of what student drinking would entail once abroad. Around half way into their international study, the students were then given a survey assessing their current drinking habits. When the authors compared the results of the two surveys they found that overall students didn’t increase their drinking habits, but students with higher perceived norms of drinking before they left their home county were much more likely to increase alcohol consumption once abroad. “Findings provide preliminary support for the idea that presenting prospective study-abroad students with accurate norms of study-abroad student-drinking behavior may help prevent increased or heavy drinking during this period” (Penderson, Labrie, and Hummer (2009). Another article supports these findings and claims that students that study abroad or have studied abroad are at a much higher risk than students who have done niether. This study article also proposes that white international students demonstrate higher risk alcohol habits than other ethnic students. (Larimer & Lee, 1010). Although both these studies propose higher drinking risk for international students, they also recognize that there are many motivators for drinking including, genes, family background, peer pressure, and surrounding environment. In order to get accurate information on the subject, studies need to concentrate on individuals different reasons they drink. It is extremely difficult to apply valid studies to groups, as everyone is different and how their own reasons for consuming alcohol. This fact cannot be ignored when studying a group as diverse as international students. One could also argue that international students have a lot more to lose if they do not do well in their studies, so they have many more reasons to abstain from alcohol.
In conclusion, we can see that student drinking is a well researched topic. Although there are many available journal articles, we have seen that most neglect the individual motivators of alcohol use, and concentrate on wide groups. There is also a lack of information concerning international students drinking habits.
Significance of the research question
The negative consequences of drinking are well know and include depression, sexual risk taking, violence, and in the long term many physical and mental health issues. It is also well know that stress is one of the main motivators for drinking alcohol, and that international students are under enormous amounts of stress. If we can find out what else causes international students to drink we can develop intervention plans that can reduce alcohol’s negative consequences and broaden our knowledge on the subject in general, while also helping local communities that deal with the social impacts of student binge drinking. This is a very prevalent health issue that needs to be examined and understood as well as possible.
Definition of concepts
For the purpose of this report all undefined concepts will be defined as follows.
Drinking habit- The amount if alcohol a person drinks, whether twenty drinks a day or none at all.
International student- Any student that has left their country of origin for the express purpose of studying upon arrival abroad.
Religion- Any form of believer in a higher power than one’s self.
Stress- The demand made on a person to adapt, cope, or adjust.
Binge drinking- For a male consuming more than 5 standard drinks in one sitting, for a female consuming more than 4 standard drinks in one sitting.
Research Question #1 What effect does religion have on international students drinking habits?
Dependant variable- For this question the dependant variable is the amount of alcohol international students drink.
Independent variable- For this question the independent variable is the international student’s religion and associated influences.
Research Question #2 How does stress affect international students drinking habits?
Dependent variable- For this question the Dependant variable is the amount of alcohol international students consume.
Independent variable- For this question the independent variable is stress that the international students feel.
Research Question #3 How do international students drinking habits compare to those of local students?
Dependant variable- For this question the dependent variable is the amount of alcohol international students consume.
Independent variable- For this question the independent variable is the amount of alcohol local students consume.
Penderson, E., Labrie, J., & Hummer, F. (2009). Perceived Behavioral Alcohol Norms Predict Drinking for College Students While Studying Abroad. Journal of studies in alcohol and Drugs, 70(6), 992.
Larimer, M. & Lee, C. (2010). Heavier drinking American college students may self-select into study abroad programs: An examination of sex and ethnic differences within a high-risk group. Addictive Behaviors, 35(9), 844-856.
Lambert, N. D., Fincham, F. D., Marks, L. D., & Stillman T. F. (2010). Invocations and intoxication: Does prayer decrease alcohol consumption? Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, 24(2), 209-219.
Ellison, C. G., Bradshaw, M., Rote, S., Storch, J., & Trevino, T. (2008). Religion and Alcohol Use Among Students: Exploring the Role of Domain Specific Religious Salience. Journal of Drug Issues, 38(3), 821.
Park, C. L., Armeli, S., & Tennen, H. (2004). The daily stress and coping process and alcohol use among college students. Journal of Studies on Alcohol, 65(1), 126.
Sharma, M. (2005). Improving Interventions for Prevention and Control of Alcohol Use in College Students. Journal of alcohol and drug education, 49(2), 3-4.