At U.S. Colleges, Binge Drinking Is on the Rise

Yet some college presidents think there should be a debate about lowering the drinking age, Hingson noted. "But, when we look at the data, binge drinking and driving is mostly among 21- to 24-year-olds," he said. "It's not among the 18- to 20-year-old group," he said.

"It appears to me that some colleges are not implementing the interventions, where we've got evidence that they work," Hingson said. "The challenge for us is to make sure colleges understand what things are working. We have to get them to expand screening and interventions to reach wider populations of students and work with communities."

Dr. Marc Galanter, director of the division of alcoholism and drug abuse in the psychiatry department at the New York University School of Medicine, said that binge drinking among college students has far-reaching effects for the students.

"The heavy drinking during college not only results in severe consequences at that time, [but] it also primes college students for later alcohol addiction," Galanter said. "Heavier drink at this age is a predictor of later alcoholism and is likely a major causative factor."

And Hingson said that efforts akin to what has been done to reduce smoking are needed to deal with the drinking problem among young people.

"We as a society have a collective responsibility to try and change this culture of drinking at colleges and among young people," he said.

More information

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has more on alcohol consumption.

SOURCES: Ralph Hingson, Sc.D., M.P.H., director, division of epidemiology and prevention research, U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism; Marc Galanter, M.D., director, division of alcoholism and drug abuse, Department of Psychiatry, New York University School of Medicine, New York City; David L. Katz, M.D., M.P.H., director, Prevention Research Center, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Conn.; July 2009, Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, supplement

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