College students like to drink - that's nothing new. But why? New research from an author who has studied the college drinking scene suggests it's because of "drunk support," a term he coined for the social support college students give one another that encourages drinking.

Consuming a moderate and responsible amount of alcohol is not a problem. Bars and restaurants that serve alcohol are a fixture of our social scene. Drinking becomes a problem when college students indulge to excess. This puts them at risk for drunk driving and other run-ins with the law, decreased academic performance and a dependence on alcohol that can lead to a troubled relationship with the substance later in life.

In his new book "Getting Wasted: Why College Students Drink Too Much and Party Too Hard," Ohio University associate professor of sociology Thomas Vander Ven argues a big part of the problem with drinking on college campuses comes from students themselves. By buying each other shots and playing drinking games like Beer Pong and Quarters, they goad each other into drinking too much. And while it may be responsible for a friend to assist another who is drunk by offering water, a ride home and a funny Facebook message in the morning, that sends the message it is okay to get intoxicated and reduces the negative repercussions of drunkenness.

Vander Ven reached this conclusion after interviewing 400 students and conducting 100 hours of field research at parties and bars. He suggests colleges find a way to incorporate students into their alcohol-and-moderation efforts. If students did not promote drinking among one another, he argues, alcohol consumption might be less of a problem.

Once again, alcohol itself is not a villain. But drinking too much is a problem for anyone. If you are a college student and you find yourself in trouble after getting drunk, consider how you got into this position and what you can do in the future to prevent it from happening again. If it's serious trouble, like a DWI or public intoxication charge, you might want to speak with an attorney. A lawyer who has worked with these matters before might be able to reduce the negative repercussions of this situation.

Source: Inside Higher Education, "Drunk Support," Allie Grasgreen, August 3, 2011.