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College alcohol problems exceed previous estimates

s consequences among college students for the year 2001. Their analyses included data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the National Household Survey on Drug Abuse, and the Harvard College Alcohol Survey, as well as national coroner studies and census and college enrollment data for 18-24 year olds. They compared the 2001 data with similar analyses of 1998 data that they published in 2002.

"In both 1998 and 2001 more than 500,000 students were unintentionally injured because of drinking and more than 600,000 were assaulted by another student who had been drinking," said Dr. Hingson. "We must remember, however, that since the 18-24 year old non-college population vastly outnumbers the college population, they actually account for more alcohol-related problems than do college students. For example, while 2.8 million college students drove under the influence of alcohol in 2001, so too did 4.5 million college-aged persons who were not in college."

Dr. Hingson and his colleagues propose data collection practices that they believe would improve future analyses of the consequences of college drinking. For example, they call for alcohol testing in every injury death in the United States.

"The data already collected on the numbers of alcohol-related fatal crashes annually in each state has proven invaluable to researchers seeking to study the effects of state-level legislative interventions to reduce alcohol-related traffic deaths," they note. "Unfortunately, without comprehensive testing for alcohol and determination of college student status of all persons who die from falls, drownings, poisoning, homicide, suicide, and any other kind of injury, we lack the most dependable yardstick by which to measure the magnitude of alcohol-related fatal injuries among college students, and whether this figure is changing over time."

The researchers conclude that greater enforcement of the
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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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