The Discovery House Blog

College Drinking, by the Numbers

May 7, 2014 Working the Steps

College drinking affects everyone on campuses nationwide, as the consequences of excessive consumption have a ripple effect that extends to non-drinking students, faculty, and administrative staff.

Alcohol on campus is clearly a problem, though an extremely difficult one to address. Enforcement, individual rights (to privacy, of assembly, to drink if over 21, etc.) are thorny issues for administrators to grapple with. Also, many students—and often, their parents—have an image of “the college experience” that includes a lively social environment.

Here are some pertinent college drinking statistics:

  • About 80% of college students drink alcohol.
  • About 50% of those who drink also indulge in binge drinking.
  • Over 1800 college students die each year as a result of alcohol-related accidental injuries.
  • Nearly 700,000 college students are assaulted each year by a student under the influence of alcohol
  • Nearly 600,000 college students are unintentionally injured while under the influence of alcohol]
  • Nearly 100,000 students each year experience sexual assault or date rape where alcohol is involved.
  • One quarter of all college students experience academic problems due to drinking (missed classes, lower grades, inability to concentrate or to complete work).
  • Over 150,000 students experience health problems as a result of their alcohol consumption.
  • Between 1.2 and 1.5 percent of students report suicide attempts consequent to drinking or drug use.
  • Over 400,000 students report having unprotected sex and more than 100,000 report having been too impaired by alcohol to know if they consented to having sex.
  • Depending on the level of drinking on campus, 25-50% of administrators report property damage as a consequence of student drinking.
  • Over 3,000,000 students drive under the influence of alcohol.
  • Approximately 5% of students have experienced interaction with police or campus security as a result of drinking, with over 100,000 arrests annually for alcohol-related incidents.
  • Nearly one third of college students meet the criteria for alcohol abuse, and one fifth of them qualify as alcohol-dependent.

There is some indication that overall alcohol consumption—as well as binge drinking—is declining. This may be a consequence of changing administrative policies, public awareness efforts, or the increasing availability of marijuana.

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