Drinking Over the Lifespan: Focus on College Ages

Alcohol Res. 2016;38(1):103-14.


Many college students drink heavily and experience myriad associated negative consequences. This review suggests that a developmental perspective can facilitate a better understanding of college drinking. Specifically, using an emerging adulthood framework that considers the ongoing role of parents and neurodevelopmental processes can provide insight into why students drink. Most college students drink and tend to drink more and more heavily than their non-college-attending peers. These drinking patterns are affected by environmental and temporal characteristics specific to the college environment, including residential campus living, the academic week, and the academic year. Additional psychosocial factors are of particular relevance to the drinking behavior of college-age people, and include exaggerated peer norms, the development and use of protective behavioral strategies, and mental health considerations. Understanding the unique interaction of person and environment is key to designing prevention/intervention efforts.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Alcohol Drinking in College*
  • Alcoholism*
  • Binge Drinking*
  • Holidays
  • Humans
  • Peer Influence
  • Residence Characteristics
  • Social Norms
  • Young Adult