The Hidden Consequences of College Drinking

Fall Semester Is a Critical Time for Parents to Discuss the Risks with First-year Students

As college students arrive on campus this fall, it's a time of new experiences, new friendships, and making memories that will last a lifetime. Unfortunately for many, it is also a time of excessive drinking and dealing with its aftermath-vandalism, violence, sexual aggression, and even death.

According to research summarized in a recent Task Force report to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) at the National Institutes of Health, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the consequences of excessive drinking by college students are more significant, more destructive, and more costly than many parents recognize. And they affect all students, whether or not they drink.

The report notes that drinking by college students aged 18 to 24 contributes to an estimated 1,400 student deaths, 500,000 injuries, and 70,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year. The chart summarizes other significant consequences identified in the report.

A Snapshot of High-Risk College Drinking Consequences

A new analysis of existing national data estimates the annual prevalence of the consequences of college drinking for U.S. college students ages 18-24. Some 1,400 college students die each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries. Other consequences are:

  • Assault by another student: 600,000
  • Injury: 500,000
  • Unprotected sex: 400,000
  • Alcohol-related health problem: 150,000
  • Arrest for alcohol-related violation: 110,000
  • Sexual assault: 70,000

In addition, about 25 percent of college students report academic consequences, 11 percent report they have damaged property under the influence of alcohol, and 5 percent are involved with police or campus security as a result of their drinking.

Source: Task Force on College Drinking, the National Advisory Council of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Early Weeks Are Critical