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Drugs & Alcohol

Substance misuse and drug dependency are problems of staggering proportions in out society today. They are the leading causes of preventable illness, disability, and death in the United States. Alcohol/chemical dependency is a disease that affects not only individuals, but every component of the family system, workplace, and the community.

The statistics on college drinking can be pretty sobering. So before you chug that beer or down that kamikaze, check out some more facts: According to national surveys of college drinking:

  • More than 500,000 full-time students at four-year colleges are injured every year in alcohol-related accidents, and nearly 1,700 die in those accidents (, August 18, 2008).
  • Nearly 300,000 of today’s college students who drink excessively will die prematurely of cirrhosis, various cancers, heart disease and other alcohol-related causes (Core Institute, 2005).
  • 159,000 first-year students won’t make it to their sophomore year because of alcohol—or drug-related—problems (Phoenix House, 2008).
  • One night of heavy drinking can limit your ability to understand abstract ideas like textbook reading or a football play for as long as 30 days (Phoenix House, 2008).
  • Alcohol is involved in 95 percent of violent crimes on college campuses and in 90 percent of college rapes (Hingston et al., 2005).
  • On average 1.2 million college students drink alcohol every year and a little more than 700,000 use marijuana.(Lipari et al., 2016).

  • Heavy drinking lowers the chance of a college student getting a job by 10% (Bamberer et al., 2018).

Where do you fit in?

The good news about drinking statistics on campus is that most students that do drink, drink responsibly. According to the Core Institute, one of America’s leading research institutions on college drinking habits, most students have less than six drinks per week. More than one in four students have not had any drinks in the past 30 days.

Hingson, R. et al. (2005). Magnitude of Alcohol-Related Mortality and Morbidity Among U.S. College Students Ages 18-24: Changes from 1998 to 2001. Annual Review of Public Health, 26, p. 259-279. Available online at:

 Lipari, R.N., & Jean-Francois, B. A Day in the Life of College Students Aged 18 to 22: Substance Use Facts​. The CBHSQ Report: May 26, 2016. Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Rockville, MD. 

Bamberer, P. A., Koopmann, J., Wang, M., Larimer, M., Nahum-Shani, I., Geisner, I., & Bacharach, S. B. (2018). “Does college alcohol consumption impact employment upon graduation? Findings from a prospective study”: Correction to Bamberger et al. (2017). Journal of Applied Psychology,103(1), 87-87. doi:10.1037/apl0000276

Alcohol Protective Factors

If you choose to drink alcohol….

1. Use a designated driver
2. Stick with only one kind of alcohol while drinking
3. Stay with the same group of friends the entire time drinking
4. Pace drinks to one or fewer an hour
5. Keep track of number of drinks being consumed
6. Have a friend let you know when you’ve had enough
7. Eat before and/or during drinking
8. Determine in advance not to exceed a set number of drinks
9. Choose not to drink alcohol
10. Avoid drinking games
11. Alternate non-alcoholic beverages

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