Skip Navigation
College Drinking Prevention - Changing the Culture

Stats & Summaries NIAAA College Materials Supporting Research Other Alcohol Information NewSpecial Features
College Presidents College Parents College Students H.S. Administrators H.S. Parents & Students
Supporting Research

Journal of Studies on Alcohol

College Drinking Statistical Papers

Funding

Related Research

 
Helpful Tools

In the News

Join Our Listserv

Links

Order Publications

Link to Us

E-mail this Page

Print this Page


Susan Murphy, Ph.D.
April 2002

WHEN STUDENTS DIE FROM ALCOHOL, WHO IS TO BLAME?

BATTLE OF THE BINGE: A FATAL NIGHT OF BOOZING AT…

Introduction

Headlines such as these are a college administrator's worst fear. Despite the fact that college drinking is down from a decade ago (Presley, et al., 1996), all of the major studies on college students' drinking habits show that binge drinking is still a serious problem. At least 40% of college students are reported as binge drinkers, consuming at least 5 drinks in a single sitting some time during the past two weeks (Wechsler, 1995; Presley and Meilman, 1992; Meilman, 1999). And while half of the binge drinkers in college had already binged when they were seniors in high school (Wechsler, 1995), the environment of a college is known to be associated with the prevalence of binge drinkers.

The problem is a serious one. In a 1989 study sponsored by the Carnegie Foundation, college presidents nationwide viewed alcohol abuse as their number one campus life problem (Cited in Wechsler, 1995). The problem is no longer confined just to those who abuse alcohol themselves and the problems they may face, like unplanned and unsafe sexual activity, injuries, crime, poor academic performance, etc. Now the concern extends to the well-documented secondhand effects—assault, damaged property, interrupted studying, etc.—which touch the lives of most every student.

And if the interest in creating a campus environment conducive to learning and growth were not enough of a motivator for a college executive to take action, the laws now require it. Starting with the basic requisites outlined in the Drug-Free Schools and Communities Act and its amendments of 1989, institutions that receive any Federal funds must meet several requirements. Among them are the adoption of an alcohol and other drug program, and definition of a policy that prohibits the unlawful possession, use and distribution of illicit drugs. (Epstein, 1998b) So whether moral or intellectual leadership or legal requirement is the motivator is immaterial. Simply put, action is required.

What is it that university administrators must do? They must define and articulate the institution's culture, values and philosophy. They must develop and enforce clearly articulated policies relating to alcohol use and abuse. They must take specific action based upon those policies, in areas such as the allocation of resources, program design and delivery, and coalition building. And they must act on their basic mission as an educational institution by building and using an institutional research agenda. While all of these steps cannot guarantee that such headlines will not appear for a given school, they can help create a supportive and healthy campus environment and culture.

Back to Table of Contents | Next

Last reviewed: 9/23/2005


Home
About Us
Awards
Site Map
FAQ
Accessibility
Plug-Ins
Privacy Policy
Contact Us
Web site Policies
Disclaimer

NIAAA logo HHS logo USA dot gov logo