New Report Reveals 1.2 Million Full-Time College Students Drank Alcohol

On an average day, 1.2 million full-time college students in the U.S. (ages 18 to 22) drank alcohol and 703,759 smoked marijuana, according to a new report by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).  The report also shows that on an average day, 239,212 part-time college students (ages 18 to 22) drank alcohol and 195,020 used marijuana.  The report differentiated full-time and part-time college students by their college enrollment status.

The report also sheds light on how many of America’s 9 million full-time and 2 million part-time college students’ start using substances on an average day.  For example, on an average day, 2,179 full-time college students drink alcohol for the first time and 1,299 start using marijuana. In addition, on an average day, 649 full-time college students start using hallucinogens, 559 start the non-medical use of prescription pain relievers, and 447 start using cocaine.

In addition, the report shows that on an average day, 453 part-time college students drink alcohol for the first time, 153 start using marijuana, 129 start the non-medical use of prescription pain relievers, 117 start using hallucinogens and 80 start using cocaine. 

Full-time college students who used alcohol in the past month drank an average of 4.1 drinks per day on the days which they drank; while part-time college students who used alcohol in the past month drank an average of 3.8 drinks per day on the days which they drank.

“Substance misuse at any age can jeopardize one’s health and long term well-being, but college students may be particularly at risk because of the pressures they face at this critical juncture of their lives,” said SAMHSA’s Center for Substance Abuse Prevention (CSAP) Director Frances Harding.  “College administration, faculty, and staff; students; parents; and the surrounding community must work to ensure that college students get the effective prevention programming and treatment services they need.”

The report, “A Day in the Life of College Students aged 18 to 22: Substance Use Facts,” highlights the substance use behavior among full-time and part-time college students. It was drawn from combined 2011 to 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUHs) data and analyzed by SAMHSA’s Center for Behavioral Health Statistics and Quality.

“These numbers are not new to us but they are alarming,” CADCA’s Gen. Arthur T. Dean told USA Today in an article that appeared about the report today. “We need to somehow change the social norms related to alcohol. Most young people believe that drinking is a rite of passage and that one has to drink to drink to fit in, but we know that it is not appropriate.”

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