Headed to College? Grab a Drink!

Alcohol consumption issues more common amongst college students than nonstudent peers

/ Author:  / Reviewed by: Chris Galloway, M.D.

(RxWiki News) The U.S. government uncovered that young adults in college struggle with drinking problems more than people of the same age not attending school.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) released a study today that showed college students entered an alcohol-related treatment facility 50 percent more often than their non-student peers.

"Talk to a counselor if you're drinking too often."

Pamela Hyde, J.D., is SAMHSA’s Adminstrator. “This report confirms the pervasive and potentially devastating role that alcohol plays on far too many college campuses,” said Hyde.

“Other SAMHSA studies have shown that one in four full-time college students have experienced past year alcohol abuse or dependence."

Throughout 2009, SAMHSA unveiled 12,000 substance abuse treatment admissions with college students ages 18 to 24. Approximately 47 percent of those cases involved alcohol-related issues. For non-students, alcohol issues constituted around thirty-percent of the substance-related problems.

Fortunately, this means cases of drug-related abuse are down for the undergraduates. While college students involved themselves with heroin, other opiates, cocaine, and methamphetamines 7.2, 8.3, 1.9, and 1-percent of the time, respectively, those numbers were 16.1, 10.5, 4.2, and 4.4 percent in those young adults pursuing alternative lifestyles.

Marijuana use remained steady amongst the two groups, at 30.9 percent of cases for students and 30 percent for nonstudents.

Of the results, the SAMHSA Administrator seems most concerned about college alcohol use.

Hyde notes her organization “is working with the academic community and its partners in behavioral health to help students prevent exposure to the dangers of alcohol misuse and encourage those who have a problem to seek treatment.”

dailyRx asked for insight on the study from contributing expert Nicole Meise, Ph.D., a licensed psychotherapist in Beverly Hills. "Part of the problem stems from the fact that many people just expect college kids to drink, ignoring the all too real risks that result from misuse, abuse and/or dependence," expresses Dr. Meise.  

"This research seems to imply that the pressures to perform both academically and fit in socially may put college students more at risk for alcohol related problems than their non-student counterparts."

All of the data from their report came from SAMHSA's 2009 Treatment Episode Data Set (TEDS), which collected and analyzed data from thousands of substance abuse treatment facilities throughout our country.  No conflicts were reported during this study.

Reviewed by: 
Review Date: 
February 7, 2012
Last Updated:
February 8, 2012