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Alcohol Use Among College Students

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Alcohol Use Disorders Among US College Students and Their Non-College-Attending Peers

Public awareness concerning high rates of alcohol use and binge drinking on college campuses has increased over the last several years. This study, published in the Archives of General Psychiatry,volume 62, No. 3, March 2005 by Wendy S. Slutske, PhD, examines the question of the incidence of alcohol related illnesses in college students and non-college students. The US Surgeon General and the US Department of Health and Human Services "have identified binge drinking among college students as a major public health problem. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism recently reported that alcohol is involved in approximately 1400 student deaths, 500,000 injuries, 600,000 assaults, and 70,000 sexual assaults each year on college campuses. Studies done since age 21 became the legal drinking age nationwide have found that college students are more likely to be engaged in heavy/binge drinking than their non-college peers. Few studies have looked at the prevalence of alcohol use disorders based on the DSM-IV standard of diagnosis. The results are inconsistent. The purpose of this study was to compare the prevalence of alcohol use disorders and alcohol disorder symptoms in college attending adults with their non-college-attending peers. They also explored whether or not there was a gender difference. The data used in the study were obtained from the public use data set of the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse which interviewed 68,929 individuals drawn from the civilian, noninstitutionalized US populaton. The rate of participation was 73% and to protect confidentiality, 55,561 individuals were randomly sampled from the original data set. The participants were aged 19-21 years. 18 year old were not studied to minimize the use of participants that had alcohol related problems before attending college. There were 6352 respondents who were either currently attending college(51%) or who were identified as not attending school(49%). Participants in college were slightly younger but this was not significant. 49% were male and 51% were female. The interview was structured computer assisted conducted by 900 field interviewers. Seven indicators of frequency of alcohol use were examined: lifetime, past-year use of any alcohol, past-month use of any alcohol, past-year and past-month drinking at least once a week, past month binge drinking at least once a week, and past month daily drinking. Symptoms of past-year DSM-IV alcohol dependence and abuse were assessed. Diagnosis of alcohol dependence required 3 of 7 dependence



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