Rose-Colored (Shot) Glasses: Students Justify Heavy Drinking

By Dirk Hanson 07/06/11

Happy thoughts help offset the negatives: blackouts, fights, hangovers, missed classes, and “regrettable sexual situations.”

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College Mantra: See No Evil, Or Pretend Not to Remember.
Photo via thinkstockphotos

This is hilarious: Those aren’t just beer goggles you’re wearing, they’re rose-colored beer goggles. You’re doubly stupid. Here’s why: Heavy drinkers tend to justify the amount they drink, and the damage it does to them, by mentally referencing all the good things about abusive drinking: “Better conversational and joke-telling abilities, improved sexual encounters and more energy to stay up late partying and dancing,” reports Science Daily. Other positive effects as perceived by the students included “courage,” and “chattiness.” 500 University of Washington College students took part in a study for the Psychology of Addictive Behaviors. Psychologists found that the perceived rewards of abusive drinking could be drawn upon to offset the experience of negative effects—“blackouts, fights, hangovers, missed classes and work, and lost, or stolen belongings,” plus everybody’s favorite category, “regrettable sexual situations.” Said Diane Logan, lead author and a graduate student in clinical psychology at the University of Washington: “It’s as though they think that the good effects of drinking keep getting better and more likely to happen again.” We can only hope that college will convince them that nothing is ever going to keep getting better and more likely to happen again.

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Dirk Hanson, MA, is a freelance science writer and the author of The Chemical Carousel: What Science Tells Us About Beating Addiction. He is also the author of The New Alchemists: Silicon Valley and the Microelectronics Revolution. He has worked as a business and science reporter for numerous magazines and trade publications including Wired, Scientific American, The Dana Foundation and more. He currently edits the Addiction Inbox blog. Email: [email protected]