Did you know that the rate of binge drinking in 2012 was 39.5 percent for young adults aged 18 to 25? The majority of full-time college students ages 18-22 use alcohol. Heavy alcohol use was reported by 12.7 percent of persons aged 18 to 25. These rates were similar to the rates in 2011 (39.8 and 12.1 percent, respectively). Among young adults aged 18 to 25, an estimated 62.9 percent of males and 57.5 percent of females were current drinkers in 2012. In this age group, 45.8 percent of males and 33.2 percent of females reported binge drinking in 2012. The rate of binge drinking among males aged 18 to 25 was lower in 2012 than in the years from 2002 to 2010. Among females in this age group, however, the rate in 2012 was like the rates in the years from 2002 to 2011.
An infographic uses the shape of an upside-down triangle on a chalkboard to show that among all full-time college students ages 18-22: 60% use alcohol, 40% binge drink, and 14% drink heavily. A note defines binge drinking as at least five drinks on one occasion during the past month and heavy drinking as binge drinking at least five times during the month.
Whether they drink or not, virtually all students experience the negative effects of college drinking on student health and campus safety.
An infographic bar chart, titled “Estimated annual consequences of college drinking,” shows the following consequences: physical assault 2, 696,000; injured 2, 599,000; unsafe sex 3, 400,000; alcohol-related arrests 3, 110,000; sexual assault/date rape 2; and death 1,825.
Young adults aged 18 to 22 who were enrolled full time in college were more likely than their peers who were not enrolled full time (i.e., part-time college students and persons not currently enrolled in college) to report current, binge, or heavy drinking. Among full-time college students in 2012, 60.3 percent were current drinkers, 40.1 percent were binge drinkers, and 14.4 percent were heavy drinkers. Among those not enrolled full time in college, these rates were 51.9, 35.0, and 10.7 percent, respectively.
The pattern of higher rates of current alcohol use, binge alcohol use, and heavy alcohol use among full-time college students compared with rates for others aged 18 to 22 has remained consistent since 2002. Among young adults aged 18 to 22, the rate of binge drinking declined somewhat since 2002. In 2002, the binge drinking rate within this age group was 41.0 percent compared with 37.1 percent in 2012. Among full-time college students, the rate decreased over this period from 44.4 to 40.1 percent. Among part-time college students and others not in college, the rate decreased from 38.9 to 35.0 percent during the same period.
In 2012, male full-time college students aged 18 to 22 were more likely than their female counterparts to be binge drinkers (45.5 vs. 35.3 percent). The rate of binge drinking among male full-time college students in 2012 was lower than in 2002 to 2007. Among female full-time college students, the rate of binge drinking in 2012 was lower than the rates only in 2002 and 2006.
Association with Illicit Drug and Tobacco Use
The level of alcohol use is associated with illicit drug use. In 2012, among the 17.0 million heavy drinkers aged 12 or older, 31.0 percent were current illicit drug users. Persons who were not current alcohol users were less likely to have used illicit drugs in the past month (4.2 percent) than those who reported (a) current use of alcohol but no binge or heavy use (7.1 percent), (b) binge use but no heavy use (18.5 percent), or (c) heavy use of alcohol (31.0 percent).
Alcohol consumption levels also are associated with tobacco use. Among heavy alcohol users aged 12 or older, 53.4 percent smoked cigarettes in the past month compared with 16.6 percent of non-binge current drinkers and 16.0 percent of persons who did not drink alcohol in the past month. Smokeless tobacco use and cigar use also were more prevalent among heavy drinkers (12.5 and 17.3 percent, respectively) than among non-binge drinkers (2.1 and 4.2 percent) and persons who were not current alcohol users (2.0 and 2.2 percent).
Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol
In 2012, an estimated 11.2 percent of persons aged 12 or older drove under the influence of alcohol at least once in the past year. This percentage has decreased since 2002, when it was 14.2 percent, but was similar to the rate in 2011 (11.1 percent). The 2012 estimate corresponds to 29.1 million persons.
Driving under the influence of alcohol among persons aged 16 or older differed by age group in 2012. The rate was highest among persons aged 21 to 25 (21.9 percent). An estimated 4.7 percent of 16 or 17 year olds and 12.8 percent of 18 to 20 year olds reported driving under the influence of alcohol in the past year. Beyond age 25, these rates showed a general decline with increasing age.
Substance Dependence, Abuse, and Treatment
The National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) includes a series of questions to assess the prevalence of substance use disorders (substance dependence or abuse) in the past 12 months. Substances include alcohol and illicit drugs, such as marijuana, cocaine, heroin, hallucinogens, inhalants, and the non-medical use of prescription-type psycho-therapeutic drugs. These questions are used to classify persons as dependent on or abusing specific substances based on criteria specified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 4th edition (DSM-IV) (American Psychiatric Association [APA], 1994).
The questions related to dependence ask about health and emotional problems associated with substance use, unsuccessful attempts to cut down on use, tolerance, withdrawal, reducing other activities to use substances, spending a lot of time engaging in activities related to substance use, or using the substance in greater quantities or for a longer time than intended. The questions on abuse ask about problems at work, home, and school; problems with family or friends; physical danger; and trouble with the law due to substance use. Dependence is considered to be a more severe substance use problem than abuse because it involves the psychological and physiological effects of tolerance and withdrawal.
At Premium Counseling Group, LLC we work with individuals and families that are struggling with substance dependence, abuse, and provide treatment for those who seek it. We utilize evidence based practices in our treatment approaches and constantly strive to provide families with the most innovative and customized treatment experience offered in this type of treatment setting.
Get informed. Get involved. Help prevent underage and high-risk college drinking.