Survey shows campus drinking crackdown had little effect
More students drink to get drunkSeptember 11, 1998
Web posted at: 12:16 a.m. EDT (0416 GMT)
BOSTON (CNN) -- A survey by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health found a measurable increase in binge drinking by college students between 1993 and 1997.
The survey of more than 14,500 students at 130 colleges, published in the Journal of American College Health, is a follow-up to a similar survey four years earlier. Researchers say the results are cause for concern.
"Among drinkers, drinking behavior intensified, so there was more drunkenness and more drinking to get drunk and more problems related to drinking," said Henry Wechsler, who headed both studies.
The survey showed that 52 percent of the students who drink admitted that they drank to get drunk, compared to just 39 percent who admitted to such behavior in 1993.
The number of students who reported being drunk three or more times in the month prior to answering the survey jumped 22 percent.
The 1993 survey was seen as a wake-up call on many college campuses, and administrators around the country have wrestled with ways to curb heavy drinking and its sometimes deadly consequences.
The follow-up survey was designed to measure how successful that effort has been -- and Wechsler said the results were at best disappointing.
More binge drinkers in fraternities, sororities
Researchers also found that the students at highest risk for binge drinking were those who went on drinking binges in high school and those who were members of fraternities and sororities.
Wechsler said four out of five students who live in fraternity or sorority houses qualified as binge drinkers.
"It's very hard to join a Greek system organization and not binge drink, because most of the people there are doing it," Wechsler said.
But there was some good news in the survey. The number of students who said they don't drink at all rose from 15.6 percent in 1993 to 19 percent in 1997.
Why students were abstaining more was difficult to gauge, but Wechsler doubted it was due to lack of access to booze. More likely, he said, those students had listened to the warnings of school administrators or were repelled by the drinking of their peers.
Students at historically black and women's colleges, as well as commuter schools without dormitories, also tended to drink less, researchers found.
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