Alcohol remains drug of choice for college students

Joe Toppe Staff Writer

August 23, 2013

PICKENS /ANDERSON – A national survey measuring substance abuse on college campuses revealed the use of alcohol as most common among students.

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education, the Core Alcohol and Drug Survey was released in April of this year with data collected from 2009 to 2011.

According to the survey, 81.8 percent of students contacted nationally used alcohol in the previous year, 62.3 percent of underage students consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days, and 43.9 percent of students reported binge drinking the previous two weeks.

Officials at Clemson University echoed the sentiments of the national survey.

“Alcohol has always been the most common drug abused on campus,” said Jennifer Goree, director of healthy campus at Clemson University. “After alcohol, more students use marijuana than any other drug.”

A high national number was also shown in the use of marijuana as 31.1 percent of students reported using marijuana the previous year and 17.9 percent of students reported using marijuana the previous 30 days.

Goree said the survey is conducted on both a local and national level.

“The Core Alcohol and Drug Survey was administered at Clemson University in 2013 and we have done this survey for a number of years,” she said. “We conduct the survey online and we send the survey to a random list of students and this is done at many colleges and Universities across the nation.”

Prescription drugs trailed all other forms of substance abuse on the national survey as only three percent of students reported the use of amphetamines in the previous 30 days and 1.8 percent of students reported the use of sedatives in the previous 30 days.

“The 30 day prevalence for amphetamines at Clemson University is 4.4 percent and the 30 day prevalence for opiates is 0.2 percent,” Goree said. “The 30 day prevalence for marijuana is 16.4 percent and the 30 day prevalence for alcohol is 74.4 percent.”

Goree said the survey also revealed 49.7 percent of Clemson students consumed five or more alcoholic drinks in one sitting over the previous two weeks.

The study at Clemson University showed the same low numbers amongst prescription drug use as the national survey.

“Our annual prevalence showed that 7.5 percent of our students had used amphetamine within the last 12 months, 3.5 percent of students had used sedatives and 1.4 percent of students had used opiates,” Goree said

The survey also revealed that residual issues such as campus misconduct and crimes were largely the result of alcohol abuse.

A reported 34.3 percent of national students documented some form of misconduct or trouble with the police including fighting, DUI, DWI, or vandalism at least once during the previous year as a result of drinking.

According to the national survey, student perception of alcohol use amongst fellow students was also high as 88.5 percent of students believed the average student on campus used alcohol more than once a week.

Survey respondents revealed 82.5 percent of students viewed drinking as the central theme of social life for male students, while 73 percent of respondents viewed drinking as the central theme of social life for female students.

In a reference group of 209,576 college students, the report included statistics on a lifetime prevalence of substance use with alcohol leading the way at 86.8 percent, while marijuana claimed 44.9 percent, amphetamines claimed 12.6 percent, sedatives claimed 7.8 percent, and opiates claimed 2.9 percent.