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College alcohol problems exceed previous estimates

The harm caused by alcohol consumption among college students may exceed previous estimates of the problem. Researchers report that unintentional fatal injuries related to alcohol increased from about 1,500 in 1998 to more than 1,700 in 2001 among U.S. college students aged 18-24. Over the same period national surveys indicate the number of students who drove under the influence of alcohol increased by 500,000, from 2.3 million to 2.8 million. The new findings appear in the 2005 issue of the Annual Review of Public Health, now online at http://arjournals.annualreviews.org/loi/publhealth.

"This paper underscores what we had learned from another recent study that excessive alcohol use by college-aged individuals in the U.S. is a significant source of harm," said Ting-Kai Li, M.D., Director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

"The magnitude of problems posed by excessive drinking among college students should stimulate both improved measurement of these problems and efforts to reduce them," added the report's lead author Ralph W. Hingson, Sc.D, Professor at the Boston University School of Public Health and Center to Prevent Alcohol Problems Among Young People.

As a member of the NIAAA Task Force on College Drinking, Dr. Hingson and other researchers reported in 2002 that alcohol contributed to an estimated 1,400 injury deaths among college students age 18-24 in 1998. A subsequent change in college census methodology that increased the estimated number of 18-24 year olds who were college students in 1998 led to an upward revision of that estimate to about 1,500 deaths. The same methods were used to calculate the 2001 estimates in the current review article.

Dr. Hingson and colleagues from the Schools of Public Health at Boston University and Harvard University gathered information about drinking and it
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Contact: John Bowersox
jbowersox@mail.nih.gov
301-443-2857
NIH/National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
18-Mar-2005


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