College Student Drinking 1

by David J. Hanson, Ph. D.

Statistics from three major national surveys of college student drinking in the U.S. demonstrate that:

I. Most students either abstain or drink in moderation.

For example:

II. Most students drink safely.

For example, when they go out drinking, almost two out of three students keep track of how much they drink and almost three out of four use a designated driver. And when they go out to drink, 95% of students either usually or always use one or more of the following sensible protective behaviors:

III. Serious harm resulting from drinking abuse is uncommon.

Contrary to common belief, it is a very small minority of students who experience serious consequences from drinking. Those who do have problems tend to be the focus of extensive news coverage, which leads to a very distorted view of reality. Of course, even a single problem resulting from alcohol abuse is one too many.

It has been pointed out that "given that the majority of students are moderate and not heavy drinkers, and that most of them employ a number of protective behaviors in order to drink safely, it is not surprising that serious harm as a consequence of drinking is uncommon." 4

 

NOTE: The National College Health Survey, conducted by the American College Health Association, sampled 16,024 students. The Core Alcohol and Drug Survey, developed by the Core Institute Center for Alcohol and other Drug Studies at Southern Illinois University, sampled 55,026 college students. The Monitoring the Future survey, conducted by the Institute for Social Research at the University of Michigan for the National Institute on Drug Abuse, sampled 1,350 college students. Thus, these three studies surveyed 72,400 students at hundreds of colleges and universities across the U.S.

References and Readings

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