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J Stud Alcohol. 2004 Jul;65(4):477-88.

Another look at heavy episodic drinking and alcohol use disorders among college and noncollege youth.

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  • 1National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, National Institutes of Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Bethesda, Maryland 20892-9304, USA.



To estimate rates of heavy episodic drinking, alcohol abuse and alcohol dependence among U.S. adults 18-29 years of age and determine the relationship of these rates to student status and residence.


The analysis is based on data from a subsample of U.S. adults 18-29 years of age (N = 8666; 4849 female) who were interviewed as part of the 2001-02 National Epidemiologic Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions (N = 43,093). Data were collected in personal interviews from a representative sample of adults 18 and older, living in households and selected group quarters in the United States, including Alaska, Hawaii and the District of Columbia.


Of all adults 18-29 years of age, 73.1% reported any drinking in the past year, 39.6% reported any heavy episodic drinking, 21.1% reported heavy drinking more than once a month and 11.0% reported heavy drinking more than once a week. Among past-year drinkers, these correspond to rates of 54.3% for any heavy episodic drinking, 28.9% for heavy drinking more than once a month and 15.0% for heavy drinking more than once a week. Although rates of heavy episodic drinking were slightly higher for college students than for noncollege students (p < .01), differences according to place of residence were greater than differences according to student status. Overall, 7.0% of adults ages 18-29 met the DSM-IV criteria for alcohol abuse in the past year, and 9.2% met the criteria for alcohol dependence. The prevalence of abuse was highest among students living off campus (p < .01), and rates of dependence were highest among students living on campus (p < .01).


Heavy episodic drinking and alcohol use disorders are youth as well as college phenomena. Prevention campaigns targeted at all youth are needed to supplement interventions conducted at the campus level.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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