Binge Drinking and Drug Abuse on Campus Get Worse
College administrators have been much more focused lately on underage drinkingbut they appear to be losing the battle. A report issued today by Columbia University's National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse, known as CASA, reveals that nearly half of college students binge drinkthat's four drinks in a row for women and five drinks in a row for menor use illegal drugs, and a growing number are bingeing more frequently. Meantime, the rate of prescription drug abuse is surging.
Researchers analyzed multiple sets of national data and surveyed 2,000 full-time college students and approximately 400 college representatives and administrators on the policies and programs related to alcohol and substance abuse on their campuses. They found that the proportion of college students who binge40 percentremained steady between 1993 and 2005. Yet the number who admitted to three or more episodes in the previous two weeks rose 16 percent between 1993 and 2001, to 3.8 million students. The illegal use of prescription opioids such as Percocet, Vicodin, and OxyContin is up 343 percent; of stimulants such as Ritalin and Adderall, 93 percent. Daily marijuana use doubled between 1993 and 2005.
"The most disturbing piece to me is the tremendous increase in the intensity of substance abuse and the intensity of drinking in these college students," says Joseph Califano Jr., chairman and president of CASA and a former U.S. health secretary under President Jimmy Carter. Indeed, the report suggests that 23 percent of full-time college students, or 1.8 million students, are substance abusers and dependent. That compares to 8.5 percent in the general population.