Do College Students Drink Too Much?

It is not rare to hear the words “student” and “alcohol” in the same sentence as it is often assumed that college and drinking go hand-in-hand. No longer living with their parents, many college students have access to alcohol like never before, and they may or may not take advantage of it. From fraternity parties to tailgating, one has to wonder, do college students drink too much?

Among college students themselves, it may be perceived that more college students use alcohol than actually do. According to American College Health Association‘s National College Health Assessment in Fall 2009, when it came to alcohol use, only 4.6 percent of students perceived that the typical student at their school had never used it, but 26.9 percent of students actually reported that they had never consumed an alcoholic beverage. An overwhelming amount, 93 percent, of students perceived that the typical student at their school had used alcohol within the past 30 days, while only 59.2 students reported actually using it. Of those who had used alcohol within the past month, 11.4 percent had consumed alcohol on 10 to 29 days of the month and most students, 46.9 percent, consumed alcohol one to nine days of the month.

For some students, the problem with alcohol may not be with how often they drink, but with how much alcohol they consume when they do. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, binge drinking occurs when someone drinks several alcoholic beverages on one occasion, five or more for men and four or more for women, generally within two hours, which causes their blood alcohol level to reach .08 percent or higher. Most of the students in the study, 38.5 percent, reported that the last time they “partied” or socialized, they consumed four or less alcoholic drinks. Of the students who fell into the category of binge drinking, 7 percent reported consuming five drinks, 5.4 percent consumed six drinks, and 15.1 percent reported that they had seven or more drinks on once occasion.

When it comes to alcohol, the real problems can start when both the number of drinks and frequency of drinking occur all too often. While 42.3 percent of students reported that they had not consumed five or more drinks in one sitting within the past two weeks, others generate cause for concern. Of those who did report consuming five or more drinks in one sitting within the past two weeks, 20.6 percent reported it happening one to two times, 7.4 percent three to five times, and 1.7 percent six or more times.

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