NIAAA Report on Prevention of College Drinking – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

NIAAA Report on Prevention of College Drinking – National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism – Brief Article

Monica Preboth

According to a study supported by the Task Force on College Drinking of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), the consequences of drinking among college students are larger and more destructive than commonly thought. The Task Force found that among college students 18 to 24 years of age, drinking contributes to an estimated 1,400 deaths, 500,000 injuries, and 70,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year. More than 25 percent of college students have driven a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol, the researchers estimate.

While most students appear to drink moderately or abstain from drinking, about 40 percent of students binge drink, which is defined as five or more drinks in a row for men and four or more drinks in a row for women. According to a recent survey, about 20 percent of students had participated in binge drinking more than three times in the past two weeks. The Task Force reports that this group of frequent binge drinkers accounts for almost 70 percent of all alcohol consumption by college students.

Drinking rates tend to be highest among incoming freshmen, male students, members of fraternities and sororities, and athletes, according to the Task Force. Students who attend two-year schools, religious schools, commuter schools, or predominantly or historically black colleges and universities drink the least.

Research on alcohol prevention among college students is relatively new and the data are incomplete. However, the Task Force found that prevention strategies that simultaneously target the student population as a whole, the college and its surrounding environment, and the individual at-risk or alcohol-dependent drinker are most effective.

The study appears in the March 2002 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol. This report and other Task Force materials (e.g., handbook for college planners on implementing alcohol prevention programs; brochures for school presidents, student peer educators, parents, and community leaders) are available online at and may also be ordered by calling the NIAAA at 301-443-3860.

COPYRIGHT 2002 American Academy of Family Physicians

COPYRIGHT 2002 Gale Group