Abusive and underage college drinking are significant public health problems, and they exact an enormous toll on the intellectual and social lives of students on campuses across the United States.
Drinking at college has become a ritual that students often see as an integral part of their higher education experience. Many students come to college with established drinking habits, and the college environment can exacerbate the problem. Research shows that more than 80 percent of college students drink alcohol, and almost half report binge drinking in the past 2 weeks.
Virtually all college students experience the effects of college drinking—whether they drink or not.
Consequences of Abusive College DrinkingDrinking affects college students, their families, and college communities at large. Consequences include:
DeathEach year an estimated 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol- related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes.
InjuryEach year an estimated 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol.
AssaultEach year an estimated 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.
Sexual AbuseEach year an estimated 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.
Unsafe SexEach year an estimated 400,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 have 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.
Academic ProblemsAbout one-quarter of college students report having academic consequences because of their drinking, including missing class, falling behind, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.
Alcohol Abuse and DependenceNineteen percent of college students between the ages of 18 and 24 met the criteria for alcohol abuse or dependence, but only 5 percent of these students sought treatment for alcohol problems in the year preceding the survey.
Drunk DrivingEach year an estimated 3,360,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 drive under the influence of alcohol.
Other ConsequencesThese include suicide attempts, health problems, vandalism, property damage, and involvement with the police.