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Arch Gen Psychiatry. 2005 Mar;62(3):321-7.

Alcohol use disorders among US college students and their non-college-attending peers.

Author information

  • Department of Psychological Sciences and the Midwest Alcoholism Research Center, University of Missouri-Columbia, USA. slutskew@missouri.edu

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Heavy/binge drinking among college students has become a major public health problem. There is consistent evidence suggesting that young adults in college are drinking more than their non-college-attending peers, but it is still not clear whether they are more likely to suffer from clinically significant alcohol use disorders.

OBJECTIVE:

To compare the prevalence of alcohol use disorders and alcohol use disorder symptoms in college-attending young adults with their non-college-attending peers within the same study in a large and representative US national sample.

DESIGN:

Cross-sectional survey.

SETTING:

Civilian, noninstitutionalized US population.

PARTICIPANTS:

Young adults (n = 6352) from the 2001 National Household Survey on Drug Abuse (19-21 years of age, 51% female, 66% white, 14% African American, 14% Hispanic).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURES:

Lifetime, past-year, and past-month drinking, past-year and past-month weekly drinking, past-month weekly binge drinking, past-month daily drinking, typical quantity consumed in the past month, and past-year DSM-IV alcohol dependence and abuse diagnoses.

RESULTS:

Eighteen percent of US college students (24% of men, 13% of women) suffered from clinically significant alcohol-related problems in the past year, compared with 15% of their non-college-attending peers (22% of men, 9% of women; overall odds ratio = 1.32). The association between past-year alcohol use disorder and college attendance was stronger among women (odds ratio = 1.70) than men (odds ratio = 1.14). College students were more likely to receive a diagnosis of DSM-IV alcohol abuse than their peers not attending college; despite the fact that those in college were drinking more, they were not more likely to receive a diagnosis of DSM-IV alcohol dependence.

CONCLUSIONS:

College students suffer from some clinically significant consequences of their heavy/binge drinking, but they do not appear to be at greater risk than their non-college-attending peers for the more pervasive syndrome of problems that is characteristic of alcohol dependence.

PMID:
15753245
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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