Inbound college students drink heavily during the summer before their freshman year: Implications for education and prevention efforts
Background: Alcohol misuse among college students remains a pervasive problem. Relatively little is known about alcohol consumption by incoming students during the summer between high school graduation and the start of the freshman year. It is possible that many students bring unhealthy drinking habits with them to college. Purpose: The present study examined patterns of alcohol use and related consequences among incoming college students during the summer before their freshman year. Methods: The dataset consisted of self-reported two-week drinking histories from 4,539 incoming freshmen at three universities during the summer of 2003. An average of 80% of all incoming students at the schools was surveyed. In the present study, drinking patterns, risk and protective factors, and alcohol-related consequences were examined. Results: Roughly 50% of college-bound students consumed alcohol in the two weeks before the survey. Nearly 30% of all students met or exceeded the threshold for binge drinking (4+ drinks for females; 5+ drinks for males). Among those who drank during the two weeks before the survey, roughly 50% of males and females consumed shots, 50% played drinking games, and 36% suffered hangovers. More than one in ten males and females experienced memory blackouts during the two-week period. Fourteen percent of males and 10% of females drove after drinking. Females were twice as likely as males to drink on an empty stomach to get drunk faster (8.2% and 4.1%) and four times as likely to drink on an empty stomach to save calories (12.8% and 2.9%). Discussion: Many students bring unhealthy drinking habits with them to college and experience blackouts, hangovers, and other consequences during the summer before they arrive on campus. Translation to Health Education Practice: Alcohol education and prevention programs should target students prior to their arrival on college campuses. © 2009 Taylor & Francis Group, LLC.
White, A; Swartzwelder, SH
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