In The Know Zone


Prevalence of Binge Drinking

  • Binge drinking often begins around age 13, its prevalence decreases during adolescence, and peaks during the age range of 18-22. (2)
  • A national survey reveals that 42% of college students reported binge drinking. (5)
  • On college campuses where 70% or more of the student body binge drinks, 87% of all students have experienced one or more problems such as physical assault, sexual harassment, and impaired sleep and study time as a result of their peers' drinking. (5)
  • Half of students who binge drink do so more than once a week. (5)
  • Half of all frequent binge drinkers report having five or more different alcohol-related problems during the school year - 20 times the rate of such problems as students who drink but do not binge. (5)
  • Only one in five of all college students is a frequent (or weekly) binge drinker, but two-thirds of the alcohol consumed by college students is consumed by this group. (5)
  • Over 60% of all injuries, vandalism, and problems with the police reported on college campuses are in frequent (weekly) binge drinkers. (5)
  • 58% of students surveyed don't think alcohol is important at a party. (5)
  • 24.5% of those who start drinking at age 17 or younger develop alcohol dependence. (2)
  • 10% of those who start drinking at age 21 or older develop alcohol dependence. (2)

Contributing Factors

  • Group size: studies show that the average person drinks far more in a group than when alone. (2)
  • Container size: young people tend to drink more if they order pitchers than if they order by the bottle or by the glass. (2)
  • Who is serving: most drinkers tend to drink more if they serve themselves than if a bartender is serving (whether or not they have to pay for drinks.) (2)
  • Price: Students who pay less than a dollar per drink or who pay a flat "all-you-can-drink" rate are more likely to binge than those who pay more. (5)
  • Perception of others' drinking:Students tend to overestimate other students' use of alcohol and other drugs. Students estimated that 2% of other students abstained from alcohol and other drugs, while in fact 16% abstained. (6)

Underage Drinkers

  • 88% of high school seniors have tried alcohol at least once. (3)
  • 28% of high school seniors admit to binge drinking at least once in the two weeks before they were surveyed. (3)
  • By the time they graduate from high school, two-thirds of youth are regular drinkers, and two-fifths are frequent binge drinkers. (2)
  • Binge drinking during high school, especially among males, is a strong predictor of binge drinking during college (among those who make it to college.) (2)
  • Eight young people a day die in alcohol-related crashes. (1)
  • Alcohol kills more teenagers than all other drugs combined. It is a factor in the three leading causes of death among 15-24 year olds: accidents, homicides, and suicides. (2)
  • Over 33% of all deaths for people aged 15-20 result from motor vehicle crashes. In 1996, almost two out of five of these motor vehicle fatalities involved alcohol. (4)
  • Youth who drink are 7.5 times more likely to use other illicit drugs and 50 times more likely to use cocaine than young people who never drink. (1)


  • Over 30,000 students each year need emergency health care for alcohol overdose.
  • One in eight college students reports injuries resulting from alcohol use. (5)
  • One in twenty college students reports alcohol-related injuries severe enough to require medical treatment. (5)
  • Alcoholism affects more people than diabetes, lung cancer, breast cancer, or heart attacks, and is about as common as hypertension (high blood pressure.) (1)
  • Last year, there were 196,277 emergency room visits as a result of using alcohol with other drugs. (4)
  • 60% of college women who have acquired sexually transmitted diseases, including AIDS, were under the influence of alcohol at the time they had intercourse. (6)

Academic Damage

  • Half of all binge drinkers miss at least one class per quarter or semester due to drinking. (5)
  • More than one-third of binge drinkers report falling behind in their schoolwork due to drinking. (5)
  • Alcohol is a factor in 40% of all academic problems. (5)
  • Alcohol is a factor in 28% of college dropouts. (5)
  • Students with GPAs of D or F drink three times as much as those who earn A's. (1)

Economic Costs

  • Each year, college students spend $5.5 billion on alcohol (mostly beer.) This is more than they spend on books, soda, coffee, juice, and milk combined. (7)
  • On a typical campus, the average amount a student spends on alcohol is $466 per year. (7)
  • The economic cost of alcohol abuse is about $148 billion per year, including medical costs, lost productivity, crime, and losses resulting from premature death. (1)

Prevalence of Alcoholism

  • Approximately 15% of all drinkers, or 1 in 7, will develop an alcohol abuse or dependence ("alcoholism") problem. (2)
  • More than 40 percent of those who start drinking at age 15 or younger develop alcohol dependence. (2)
  • 24.5% of those who start drinking at age 17 or younger develop alcohol dependence. (2)
  • 10% of those who start drinking at age 21 or older develop alcohol dependence. (2)


  • Alcohol is a factor in nearly 40 percent of violent crimes. (6)
  • Among college men who raped women, 67% used alcohol or other drugs before the assault, and 55% of the victims also used alcohol or other drugs before the assault. (2)


  1. National Institute on Drug Abuse
  2. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
  3. Monitoring the Future
  4. Drug Abuse Warning Network
  5. Harvard School of Public Health
  6. Join Together Online
  7. Office for Substance Abuse Prevention

In The Know: Substance Abuse Pamphlet/ DVD Package
In the Know: Binge Drinking, Drowning in Alcohol Pamphlet
In The Know: Substance Abuse DVD Package