Drinking on College Campuses
Extent of College Drinking
- In 2005, about 10.8 million persons ages 12-20 (28.2% of this age group) reported drinking alcohol in the past month. Nearly 7.2 million (18.8%) were binge drinkers, and 2.3 million (6.0%) were heavy drinkers.2 More males than females ages 12-20 reported current alcohol use (28.9% vs. 27.5%), binge drinking (21.3% vs. 16.1%), and heavy drinking (7.6% vs. 4.3%).
- 44% of students attending 4-year colleges drink alcohol at the binge level or greater.
- Young adults aged 18-22 enrolled full-time in college were more likely than their peers not enrolled full time to use alcohol in the past month, to binge drink, and to drink heavily.
- 48% of college drinkers report that ‘drinking to get drunk’ is an important reason for drinking. Almost 1 in 4 drink alcohol 10 or more times a month and 29% report being intoxicated 3 or more times per month.
- Binge drinkers consumed 91% of all alcohol that college students reported drinking, while 68% of alcohol was consumed by frequent binge drinkers.
- College students who first became intoxicated before age 19 are more likely to be alcohol dependent and frequent heavy drinkers. These younger drinkers are also more likely to report driving after drinking, riding with a driver who was drinking or drunk, and sustaining injuries after drinking alcohol that required medical attention.
Annual High-Risk College Drinking Consequences
The consequences of excessive and underage drinking affect virtually all college campuses, college communities, and college students, whether they choose to drink or not.
- Death: 1,700 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes (Hingson et al., 2005).
- Injury: 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol (Hingson et al., 2005).
- Assault: More than 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking (Hingson et al., 2005).
- Sexual Abuse: More than 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape (Hingson et al., 2005).
- Unsafe Sex: 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 had unprotected sex and more than 100,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report having been too intoxicated to know if they consented to having sex (Hingson et al., 2002).
- Academic Problems: About 25 percent of college students report academic consequences of their drinking including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall (Engs et al., 1996; Presley et al., 1996a, 1996b; Wechsler et al., 2002).
- Health Problems/Suicide Attempts: More than 150,000 students develop an alcohol-related health problem (Hingson et al., 2002) and between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students indicate that they tried to commit suicide within the past year due to drinking or drug use (Presley et al., 1998).
- Drunk Driving: 2.1 million students between the ages of 18 and 24 drove under the influence of alcohol last year (Hingson et al., 2002).
- Vandalism: About 11 percent of college student drinkers report that they have damaged property while under the influence of alcohol (Wechsler et al., 2002).
- Property Damage: More than 25 percent of administrators from schools with relatively low drinking levels and over 50 percent from schools with high drinking levels say their campuses have a "moderate" or "major" problem with alcohol-related property damage (Wechsler et al., 1995).
- Police Involvement: About 5 percent of 4-year college students are involved with the police or campus security as a result of their drinking (Wechsler et al., 2002) and an estimated 110,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are arrested for an alcohol-related violation such as public drunkenness or driving under the influence (Hingson et al., 2002).
- Alcohol Abuse and Dependence: 31 percent of college students met criteria for a diagnosis of alcohol abuse and 6 percent for a diagnosis of alcohol dependence in the past 12 months, according to questionnaire-based self-reports about their drinking (Knight et al., 2002).
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