Drinking at college has become a cultural rite of passage, exacerbating the problem for young adults who are at risk of developing the disease of alcoholism.

The Consequences are Alarming

  • About 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.1
  • About 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.2
  • About 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.3
  • About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.4
  • About 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for an Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD).5
20% of college students meet the criteria for AUD

Factors Affecting Student Drinking

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, factors contributing to student drinking include:

  • Unstructured time
  • Widespread availability of alcohol
  • Inconsistent enforcement of underage drinking laws
  • Limited interactions with parents and other adults
  • Greek systems and athletic programs with a heavy emphasis on drinking
1 in 4 college students report academic consequences

Strategies for Addressing Students

CollegeAIM (College Alcohol Intervention Matrix) recommends a mix of individual- and environmental-level strategies to maximize positive effects.

Individual-level strategies:

  • Education and awareness programs
  • Cognitive-behavioral skills-based approaches
  • Motivation and feedback-related approaches
  • Behavioral interventions by health professionals

Environmental-level strategies:

  • Reduce the availability of alcohol
  • Increase awareness of counseling resources
  • Tighten policies related to alcohol sales
  • Strengthen leadership within the campus community
97,000 students between the ages of 18 & 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assualt

The NIAAA <CollegeAIM guide> rates nearly 60 alcohol intervention programs in terms of effectiveness, cost, and other factors, so you can find the best mix of strategies for your unique circumstances.

More Information

The problem of college drinking is complex and challenging, but together, we can reduce the likelihood of alcohol-related harm to your students by committing to plans using evidence-based interventions.

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1 Hingson, R.W.; Zha, W.; and Weitzman, E.R. Magnitude of and trends in alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18 –24, 1998 –2005. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (Suppl. 16):12–20, 2009. PMID: 19538908 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2701090/
2 Hingson R, Heeren T, Winter M. et al. Magnitude of alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18–24: changes from 1998 to 2001. Annual Review of Public Health 26: 259 –279, 2005. PMID: 15760289 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15760289
3 Hingson R, Heeren T, Winter M. et al. Magnitude of alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18–24: changes from 1998 to 2001. Annual Review of Public Health 26: 259 –279, 2005. PMID: 15760289 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15760289
4 Wechsler, H.; Dowdall, G.W.; Maenner, G.; et al. Changes in binge drinking and related problems among American college students between 1993 and 1997: Results of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study. Journal of American College Health 47(2):57– 68, 1998. PMID: 9782661 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/07448489809595621
5 Blanco, C.; Okuda, M.; Wright, C. et al. Mental health of college students and their non-college-attending peers: Results from the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Archives of General Psychiatry 65(12):1429 –1437, 2008. PMID: 19047530 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2734947