1.2 million U.S. college students boozing on average day

By HealthDay News
THURSDAY, May 26, 2016 -- When they're not hitting the books, many U.S. college students are hitting the bars or getting high, a new government report shows.

About 1.2 million full-time college students, aged 18 to 22, drink alcohol, and nearly 704,000 use marijuana on an average day, researchers from the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) found.

"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 Frances Harding, director of SAMHSA's Center for Substance Abuse Prevention.


"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," Harding added in an agency news release.

The report examines substance use by the nation's 9 million full-time and 2 million part-time college students. Researchers found substance use -- including hallucinogens, prescription painkillers and cocaine -- a concern for both populations.

The investigators found that on an average day:

  • Almost 2,200 full-time college students drink alcohol for the first time and about 1,300 start using marijuana.
  • About 650 full-time students start using hallucinogens, almost 560 start non-medical use of prescription pain relievers, and about 450 begin using cocaine.
  • Students who used alcohol in the past month drank similar amounts -- roughly 4 drinks a day on the days they drank -- whether they were part-time or full-time, according to the report.

For the report, SAMHSA researchers analyzed 2011-2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health data.


The agency said it has various programs for college campuses, including grants to address underage drinking and drug use.

More information

The U.S. National Institutes of Health has more on college drinking.

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