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Home > College Drinking-Related Statistics > Consequences of Alcohol Use

Consequences

Researchers estimate that each year:

  • Deaths: 1,519 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.1
  • Assaults: 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.2
  • Sexual Assaults: Although estimating the number of alcohol-related sexual assaults is exceptionally challenging—since sexual assault is typically underreported—researchers have confirmed a long-standing finding that 1 in 5 college women experience sexual assault during their time in college.3 A majority of sexual assaults in college involve alcohol or other substances.4,5 Research continues in order to better understand the relationships between alcohol and sexual assault among college students. Additional national survey data are needed to better estimate the number of alcohol-related assaults.
  • Alcohol Use Disorder (AUD): 9 percent of college students meet the criteria for AUD.6
  • Academic Consequences: About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.7

  • 1 Methodology for arriving at estimates described in Hingson, R.; Zha, W.; and Smyth, D. Magnitude and trends in heavy episodic drinking, alcohol-impaired driving, and alcohol-related mortality and overdose hospitalizations among emerging adults of college ages 18–24 in the United States, 1998–2014. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 78(4):540–548, 2017. PMID:28728636
  • 2 Hingson, R.; Heeren, T.; Winter, M.; et al. Magnitude of alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18–24: Changes from 1998 to 2001. Annual Review of Public Health 26:259–279, 2005. PMID: 15760289
  • 3 Muehlenhard, C.; Peterson, Z.; Humphreys, T.; Jozkowski, K. Evaluating the one-in-five statistic: Women’s risk of sexual assault while in college. The Journal of Sex Research 54(4-5):549–576, 2017. PMID: 28375675
  • 4 Carey, K.B.; Durney, S.E.; Shepardson, R.L.; Carey, M.P. Incapacitated and forcible rape of college women: Prevalence across the first year. Journal of Adolescent Health 56(6):678–680, 2015. PMID: 26003585
  • 5 Lawyer, S.; Resnick, H.; Bakanic, V.; Burkett, T.; Kilpatrick, D. Forcible, drug-facilitated, and incapacitated rape and sexual assault among undergraduate women. Journal of American College Health 58(5):453–460, 2010. PMID: 20304757
  • 6 SAMHSA. 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health. Table 6.23B – Alcohol Use Disorder in Past Year among Persons Aged 18 to 22, by College Enrollment Status and Demographic Characteristics: Percentages, 2018 and 2019. Available at https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/reports/rpt29394/NSDUHDetailedTabs2019/NSDUHDetTabsSect6pe2019.htm#tab6-23b. Accessed 10/1/20.
  • 7 Wechsler, H.; Dowdall, G.W.; Maenner, G.; et al. Changes in binge drinking and related problems among American college students between 1993 and 1997: Results of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study. Journal of American College Health 47(2):57–68, 1998. PMID: 9782661