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Thursday, April 14, 2016

When Do College Students Drink Alcohol?

Alcohol Awareness Month 2016 is upon us, the goal of the National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence, Inc. (NCADD) is to “increase public awareness and understanding, reduce stigma and encourage local communities to focus on alcoholism and alcohol-related issues.” This year’s theme is: “Talk Early, Talk Often: Parents Can Make a Difference in Teen Alcohol Use.” NCADD points to research that found teens, who have conversations with their parents about drugs and alcohol, are 50 percent less likely to use mind altering substances, compared to those who don’t have the conversation.

So, what happens in college? Teenagers and young adults have a new sense of freedom after leaving the nest, and they are more often than not exposed to alcohol. It is fair to say that every weekend the majority of college students will be around or drink alcohol, often engaging in unsafe drinking practices such as “binge drinking.” This dangerous behavior is usually defined as men consuming 5 or more drinks, and women consuming 4 or more drinks in about 2 hours, according to the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). The organization points out that binge drinking negatively affects students’ academic and social lives.

A team of researchers sought to find out when college students drink the most, and the findings may not be what you think. In fact, the research showed that college drinking spikes when students first return to school in the fall semester and during spring break, but drops during summer break, Medical Daily reports. The findings were published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

The researchers began measuring alcohol consumption in January 2014 among 462 college freshmen (290 females and 172 males), a total of eight times over the course of 55 weeks, according to the article. The research indicated a 29 percent drop in alcohol consumption during the summer, a 31 percent spike in the fall and 18 percent rise in around spring break.

It goes without saying that college drinking can be extremely dangerous. In fact the NIAAA reports that every year:
  • 1,825 college students die from alcohol-related injuries.
  • Nearly 600,000 students experience unintentional injuries while drinking.
  • More than 690,000 students are assaulted by a student who has been drinking.

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