Young-adult drinking: Trends positive for college students, not for others | Addiction Professional Magazine Skip to content Skip to navigation

Young-adult drinking: Trends positive for college students, not for others

July 28, 2017
by Gary A. Enos, Editor
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New data reported by a National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) task force suggest that college administrators' efforts to reduce problem drinking on campus may be having the desired effect, while non-students in the same age group continue to see some worsening numbers.

A study published in the July issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs finds that college student binge drinking, which had increased every year from 1999-2005, declined in the 2005-2014 period. Past-month binge drinking in this group, with binge drinking defined as five or more drinks on one occasion, dropped from 45% in 2005 to 37% in 2014.

At the same time, adults ages 18 to 24 who were not in college saw past-month binge drinking rates increase from 36% to 40% between 1999 and 2014.

“Among young adults who aren't in college, there aren't the same organizational supports to implement interventions, and that may be contributing to why binge drinking is increasing in that group,” said study author Ralph Hingson, MPH, who works at NIAAA's Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research.

Some worrisome statistics in the young adult population remain, including that both alcohol-related overdose hospitalizations and overdose deaths have been on the increase in the 18-to-24 group.

NIAAA convened the task force in 1998 to explore solutions to problematic college drinking, and the group issued its first report in 2002.