Four-year college students drink more per week than their two-year colleagues: research – The Hill

Story at a glance

  • The study measured the monthly online survey responses of 517 students in the Seattle area who reported using alcohol in the past year.

  • Four-year students consumed more than seven drinks per week compared to an average of three and a half weekly for two-year students.

  • “If you think your peers are drinking more than they really are, that leads you to drink more,” the study’s lead author said.

College students at four-year institutions drink nearly twice as much alcohol as their peers at two-year schools, according to a new study.

The study, which measured the monthly online survey responses of 517 students in the Seattle area who reported using alcohol in the past year, found that four-year students consumed more than seven drinks per week compared to an average of three and a half weekly for two-year students. Differences in marijuana use also differed among the two groups, with two-year students outpacing their four-year counterparts.

Survey participants were given grants for their contributions.

“I expected differences in both alcohol and marijuana use among two- and four-year college students but was surprised by the magnitude of the differences given that the subjects are the same ages,” said the study’s lead author Jennifer Duckworth, an assistant professor in Washington State University’s Department of Human Development.


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Duckworth said the groups each felt consequences from their substance use, noting that one cause of heightened alcohol use might be traced to the notion that one’s peers are drinking more than they are.

“If you think your peers are drinking more than they really are, that leads you to drink more,” Duckworth said.

“Two-year students are using marijuana more than four-year students, but they also think their peers are using it more than they probably are,” she added. “I say probably because we need more research to assess peer use. It’s an important next step is studying this often-understudied population.”

A report released by the National Institutes of Health last year found alcohol consumption on college campuses decreased from the previous year. The report found that 56 percent of students in 2020 reported drinking in the past year, which marks a 6 percent decline from the previous year.

Meanwhile, the number of students who reported binge drinking – consuming five or more drinks during an event or outing – dropped by 8 percent in 2020.


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Published on May. 18, 2022

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