Mixed results in research on drinking habits in 18-24-year olds.

636151963571255815-1193285870_25153_web.vp.alcohol.pica.jpg

A press release published last week about an article in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs from researcher Ralph Hingson, Sc.D., M.P.H., noted some good news about drinking behavior in 18-24-year old’s.  As related to binge drinking (having 5 or more drinks in a 2-hour period) college students’ habits decreased between 2005 and 2014 from 45% to 37%.  On the other hand, binge drinking increased from 36% to 40% for the same age group that did not go to college.  More alarming is that the rate of excessive binge drinking (double the 5 or more drinks) that resulted in alcohol-overdose hospitalizations rose 26% per 100,000 from 1998 to 2014. Alcohol/other drug overdoses are up 61% (alcohol/opioid overdoses up 197%). 

Clearly much of the reduction in college drinking is the result of increased efforts “by college administrators on adopting interventions aimed at reducing problematic drinking” says Hingson.  I began working in this field 12 years ago for the Hazelden Foundation (now Hazelden/Betty Ford Foundation).  At that time, we were launching the first online after treatment program.  During the launch, we contacted colleges about the possibility of using our program.  We were told that colleges saw drinking as a family issue and were reluctant to get involved.  I, too, think the drop-in campus binge drinking is the result of the bad publicity around college drinking.

He concludes the study by saying, “drinking and related problems among emerging adults underscore a need to expand individually oriented interventions, college/community collaborative programs, and evidence-supported policies to reduce their drinking and related problems.”  At Gobi, we couldn’t agree more.