The adverse impact of heavy episodic drinkers on other college students

J Stud Alcohol. 1995 Nov;56(6):628-34. doi: 10.15288/jsa.1995.56.628.


Objective: College student survey data were examined to assess the impact of campus levels of heavy episodic drinking on nonheavy episodic drinking college students.

Method: Analyses are based on a survey mailed to a random sample of college students at 140 American colleges. A total of 17,592 students (69%) at participating colleges responded. The study defined "heavy" drinking as the consumption of five or more drinks in a row for men and four or more for women, and divided schools into approximately equal categories: lower drinking level schools where 35% or fewer students were heavy drinkers; midlevel schools (36-50% heavy drinkers); and high drinking level schools where over 50% of the students were heavy drinkers.

Results: Residing on campus at high drinking level schools adversely affected students who were not engaging in heavy drinking. The odds of experiencing at least one problem from other students' drinking was 3.6 to 1 when nonheavy drinking students at high drinking level schools were compared to nonheavy drinking students at lower drinking level schools. Examples of such secondary heavy drinking effects included being hit or assaulted, having one's property damaged or experiencing an unwanted sexual advance.

Conclusions: College alcohol prevention efforts should include a focus on the needs of students who are not engaging in heavy drinking yet may be adversely impacted by other students' heavy drinking.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Alcohol Drinking / adverse effects*
  • Alcohol Drinking / epidemiology
  • Alcohol Drinking / psychology
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / epidemiology
  • Alcoholic Intoxication / psychology*
  • Cross-Sectional Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Peer Group*
  • Social Environment*
  • Students / psychology*
  • Students / statistics & numerical data
  • United States / epidemiology