Kudos to Time’s Healthland for writing an honest and factual piece about binge drinking among today’s college students – College Binge Drinking: How Bad Is the Problem Really? The story uses national statistics, not just reports on the outrageous and often dangerous antics of some college students.
Stories without factual data and statistics leave the reader with the impression this behavior is something every college student and their peers are engaging in. The Healthland story references two reliable sources of data on alcohol consumption among youth in our country – National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) and Monitoring the Future – both which have shown continues declines in binge drinking.
Results from the just released NSDUH shows binge drinking among 18- to 22-year olds enrolled full time in college is at the lowest level in the past ten years, down 12% from 44% in 2002 to 39% in 2011. The most recent binge drinking statistics from the Monitoring the Future Survey are consistent, reporting 36% of college students said they had five or more drinks in a row in the past two weeks, down 10% from 40% in 2002 and down 16% from 43% in 1991. What these statistic also highlight is that the majority of college students are not binge drinking – six out of ten college students to be exact.
These statistics are not meant to say there is no problem, unfortunately these same studies tell us nearly 40% of today’s college students engage in binge drinking and even more alarming that one in seven students (14%) reported having 10 or more drinks in a row. There is no doubt this type of drinking is dangerous and potentially lethal, and it is why The Century Council continues to work toward reducing such dangerous overconsumption. However, news reports on the antics of just a few (alcohol enemas, vodka eye shots, etc.) often tend to present the problem of binge drinking as if everyone is doing it and that only further spreads the misperception about today’s college students and their behaviors.
The Century Council has been working to reduce college binge drinking since 1997 and a few years ago started a new college binge drinking initiative that actively involved college students engaging their peers in education and awareness about binge drinking, its dangerous consequences, as well as getting them to review and modify their own behaviors. Much has been done over the past two decades to reduce college binge drinking let’s make sure the stories reflect the declining trends.