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College Drinking: A Growing Problem

Unfortunately, college drinking is becoming synonymous with the “college experience.” Students these days are drinking more and more and that’s becoming a big problem. Here’s what you need to know.

Why is Drinking Part of College Culture?

The reason why drinking is part of the college culture is that it is a way for students to relax and have fun. However, this doesn’t mean that students should drink as much as they want. And unfortunately, most students are unaware of how much is too much.

The problem with drinking on campus isn’t just that there are so many people who do it, it’s that they’re doing it in such a way that makes the college experience less than ideal for everyone involved. We are not talking about the occasional drink or two at parties and other social events. We are talking about heavy alcohol use, which is defined as consuming more than five drinks per day or binging every weekend. A new study found that young adults between 18 and 24 are drinking at rates higher than ever before.

Statistics of College Drinking

According to the 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, 52.5 percent (52.5%) of college students ages 18-21 drank alcohol in the past month, and 33.0 percent (33.0%) engaged in binge drinking in the past month. 

Binge drinking is defined as 5 or more drinks per occasion for men and 4 drinks or more per occasion for women. For a typical adult, this pattern is synonymous with consuming 5 to 7 drinks in about 2 hours. 

In addition, 8.2 percent engaged in heavy alcohol consumption (defined by NSDH as binge drinking on five or more days in the previous month). 

These binge drinking and alcohol use rates are both much higher than for those not in college.  Researchers estimate:

  • Deaths: Studies show 1,519 college students die from alcohol related deaths.
  • Assaults: Another study determined 696,000 students are harassed by another student who has been drinking.
  • Sexual Assaults: One women’s health study found 1 out of 5 women are sexually assaulted in college (reported cases) by someone who has been drinking.
  • Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD): The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse found that 9 percent of college students have an AUD
  • Academic Consequences: An NCBI study found 25 percent of college students report falling behind in college as a direct result of alcohol consumption. 

What Do Colleges Do to Prevent Dangerous Drinking?

Many colleges have done their best to create a safe environment for their students that is free of dangerous drinking. This has been done through a series of policies including zero-tolerance policies, enforcement, and education.

Zero Tolerance

Zero-tolerance policies are a common strategy to prevent dangerous drinking. These policies state that not only will the drinker be punished, but so will the person hosting the event. This policy can help create a culture of responsibility and discourage potential hosts from supplying alcohol in the first place.


Because college drinking is a topic of great concern, colleges strictly enforce their no drinking policies. Colleges enforce no drinking with strict punishment, such as alcohol education and community service. This is to discourage students from drinking alcohol.


At colleges, students are educated about alcohol consumption in many different ways. Alcohol education is not just limited to the classroom but is also found in the residence halls, student life, and administration offices. The topic of alcohol consumption is discussed by individuals who are not only knowledgeable about the subject but also experienced with it.

One way alcohol education occurs at colleges is through guest lectures. Multiple colleges offer guest lectures to inform students about alcohol consumption, what it does to the body and other negative side effects.

Resources to Help College Students with Alcoholism

There are many resources to help college students with alcoholism. One resource is the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. This organization “provides research-based information on alcohol-related issues, including alcohol use disorders, to healthcare professionals, policymakers, the media, and the public.” It happens to be a great resource for college students interested in learning more about alcohol use disorder and consuming too much alcohol.

Another great resource is Tennessee Valley Recovery. Here, we treat all different types of disorders, including alcohol addiction. We offer several treatment services including outpatient programming.

Stopping College Drinking in Knoxville, TN

In the past, college students drank beer and wine in moderation. Today, they are drinking more alcohol than ever before. If not addressed, this problem can result in health problems, mental distress, and senseless accidents. At Tennessee Valley Recovery in Knoxville, TN, we are on a mission to help college students get help with alcohol abuse. To get started today, please give us a call or use our contact form.