Drinking problems on the rise among US college students

June 15th, 2009 - 2:38 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, June 15 (ANI): A U.S. Government-funded study has revealed that heavy drinking, drink driving, and alcohol-related deaths among college students have been rising for the past decade.

Researchers at the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) used figures from government databases and national surveys on alcohol use for their study.

They found that drinking-related accidental deaths among 18- to 24-year-old students to be on the rise-from 1,440 in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005.

The researchers said that the proportion of students who reported recent heavy episodic drinking also rose from about 42 percent to 45 percent.

They further revealed that the proportion of students who admitted to drinking and driving in the past year was found to have increased from 26.5 percent to 29 percent.

“The fact that we’re not making progress is very concerning,” says lead researcher Ralph Hingson, director of the NIAAA’s division of epidemiology and prevention research.

“The irony is that during this same time period, our knowledge of what works as far as intervention in this age group has increased. That knowledge isn’t yet being put into place,” he added.

“There’s no silver bullet for this, but the more levels at which we try to intervene, the more effective we’ll be. Colleges and communities need to work together, because neither can do it alone,” he says.

Hingson and his colleagues also believe that broader legislation may make a difference.

They observed that though drinking and driving were more common among college students in 2005 than in 1998, the trend actually began to reverse course during that time.

The researchers revealed that, in 2002, just over 31 percent of students had driven under the influence in previous year, whereas, in 2005, the figure was 29 percent.

Hingson points out that in 2000, only 17 U.S. States had made it illegal to drive with a blood alcohol content of .08 percent or higher, and that all had adopted that limit by 2005.

He says that that might at least partially account for the dip in college students’ drinking and driving.

The researcher also credited State laws that set the legal drinking age at 21 for reducing alcohol-related road deaths.

Hingson said that an interesting finding of the study was that the increases in heavy episodic drinking, drinking and driving, and alcohol-related deaths were seen among 21- to 24-year-olds, and not 18- to 20-year-olds.

The findings of the study have been reported in a special supplemental issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, which is devoted to college drinking problems. (ANI)

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