Study: Rate of Student Binge Drinking in Indiana Less Than National Average

INDIANAPOLIS – “Indiana college students are binge drinking below the national average of 47 percent, but at 45 percent that number is still too high,” says Lisa Hutcheson, Director of the Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking.

In the first college alcohol use survey conducted on 14 statewide campuses, results indicate that underage and other high risk drinking is still a problem. Over 7,600 students completed the survey, which measured the use, attitudes and perceptions among college students regarding alcohol and other drug use.

Among students younger than 21, 65% reported consuming alcohol in the past 30 days, and 71% of all college students responding reported consuming alcohol in the past 30 days. Binge drinking, which is defined as five or more drinks for a male and four or more drinks for a female in a two-hour period, was also measured. In all, 45 percent of students reported bingeing in the last two weeks. Tobacco and other drug use were also measured, with 12 percent of students reporting marijuana use in the past 30 days. More than 10 percent of students (10.4 percent) reported using tobacco daily (cigarettes or smokeless tobacco).

With binge drinking and other drug use come serious and potentially deadly consequences. Among those students who drink or use drugs, 35 percent report some form of public misconduct (fighting, trouble with the police, etc.) and 25 percent report experiencing some serious personal problems (feelings of suicide, being hurt, trying unsuccessfully to stop using). Other consequences include driving while under the influence (24 percent), academic failure 18 percent, having had a hangover 59 percent, and having done something they later regretted, such as a sexual encounter 36 percent.

Sexual assault on campus is a serious problem, with 10 percent of college students reporting that they have been taken advantage of sexually as a result of their drinking or other drug use. More than half of students surveyed (55 percent) said that alcohol facilitates sexual opportunity.

Stephanie Morris, Project Coordinator for the Indiana Campus Sexual Assault Prevention Project (INCSAPP) said, “Even though many campuses in Indiana are working on sexual violence prevention, more needs to be done. A comprehensive approach, involving the campus and community, is most effective. INCSAPP is poised to help campuses meet the challenge.”

Tammy Loew, Health Advocacy Coordinator at the Student Wellness Office at Purdue University feels that this data is much needed. “Our campuses will use these data to develop and implement effective, evidence-based programs and policies. Just as exciting, we’ll be able to look at some statewide initiatives as well. Our ultimate goal is a healthy campus climate for all college students in Indiana.”

This survey was paid for by the Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking through a grant from the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation and was conducted by the Core Institute at Illinois University Southern Carbondale. The Indiana Coalition to Reduce Underage Drinking, a program of the Mental Health Association in Indiana, is a non-profit advocacy coalition working to reduce youth access to alcohol through policy change.

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Press release by the Indiana Prevention Resource Center

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