College Binge Drinking On Decline But Rising Among Non-Collegiate Young Adults
A new study published this summer in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that after many years of increased past-month episodic drinking (binge drinking) among young adults aged 18-24, the rates of alcohol abuse are finally beginning to drop. However, those numbers are increased in adults of the same age but are not attending college.
Also, alcohol-impaired driving and alcohol-related deaths among college students declined. And the same research revealed that hospitalizations related to alcohol poisoning and deaths have risen among the 18-24 age group in general.
The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) began this research in 1998, by convening a task force to study problems associated with college drinking and to formulate potential solutions.
The task force published its first report in 2002, and in the latest update, investigators examined data through 2014. They discovered that each year from 1999-2005, binge drinking as associated consequences rose among college students aged 18-24. Conversely, those numbers fell from 2005-2014.
Moreover, the percentage of self-reported college binge drinking increased from 42% to 45% from 1999-2005 but then fell to 37% by 2014. Binge drinking in non-college students, however, increased from 36% to 40% in that same period.
Binge drinking is defined as the consumption of five or more alcoholic beverages in a single occasion.
Also, college students who reported engaging in impaired driving increased from 27%-28% from 1999-2005, but decreased to just 17% in 2014. Those not attending college who reported drinking and driving also fell from 20% to 16% from 1999-2014.
Overall, injury deaths related to alcohol rose from 4,807 in 1998 to 5,531 in 2005, then fell to 4,105 by 2014 (a 29% reduction per 100,000.)
Traffic fatalities related to alcohol rose from 3,783 in 1998 to 4,114 in 2005, and then fell to 2,614 in 2014 (a 43% reduction per 100,000.)
Overdose deaths related to alcohol poisoning rose from 207 in 1998 to 891 in 2014, an incredible 254% increase per 100,000.
hospitalizations related to overdoses increased by 26% per 100,000 from 1998-2014, especially from increases in alcohol combined with other drugs, up 61% (alcohol + opioid overdoses rose 197%.)
The authors concluded:
“Persistent high levels of heavy episodic drinking and related problems among emerging adults underscore a need to expand individually oriented interventions, college/community collaborative programs, and evidence-supported policies to reduce their drinking and related problems.”
~ G. Nathalee Serrels, M.A., Psychology