Risks of College Drinking

The season for senior high schoolers to receive their college admittance letter is right around the corner as well as Spring Break. In light of this, unknown risks lurk in the shadows as incoming and current Freshman College students are the most vulnerable to heavy drinking and alcohol-related consequences due to social pressures and student expectations. Certain aspects of college life such as unstructured time, the widespread availability of alcohol, inconsistent enforcement of underage drinking laws, and limited interactions with parents and other adults can intensity college drinking. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) indicate that drinking by college students ages 18 to 24 contribute to an “estimated 1,825 student deaths, 696,000 assaults by another student who has been drinking, and 97,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year.” According to the 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH), 58% of full-time college students ages 18-22 drank alcohol in the last month, 38% engaged in binge drinking (males having 5 or more drinks or females having 4 or more drinks at the same time within a few hours of each other), and 12.5% engages in heavy alcohol use.


Parents have the ability to make an impact on their student by discussing the use and consequences of alcohol during the early weeks of attending college. Further, parents can help by talking with their student about the dangers of harmful and underage college drinking such as the penalties and how alcohol use can lead to date rape, violence and academic failure. Parents can also continuously reach out to their student and keeping the lines of communication open, and reminding them that they should feel comfortable to share information about their daily activities and to ask for help if needed.