We have all seen the articles that show college students notoriously overestimate alcohol consumption because they think everyone is doing it.  So as many parents prepare to send their sons and daughters off to college this month, for the first time or simply again, the release of the 2011 Monitoring the Future survey of college students seems very timely.  The data serves as a reminder to continue talking with your college age children about guidelines with respect to underage drinking, driver safety, and the legal drinking age.

The 2011 Monitoring the Future survey is a annually by the National Institute of Drug Abuse and conducted by the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research. The 2011 survey revealed that fewer college students are consuming alcohol, however, the levels remain too high despite alcohol possession and consumption being illegal for most of college students.  Reaching historic low levels, the 2011 data continue to reflect a longer-term, gradual decline in underage drinking among American college students with noted decreases in lifetime, past year, past month, and binge drinking prevalence rates.

Eight of every ten college students have some experience with alcohol having consumed at least once in their lifetime.  Current consumption is also widespread with 64% reporting past month consumption and two out of five college students reporting they have been drunk in the past 30 days.  More importantly, perhaps, are the levels of dangerous consumption among these students – 36% report binge drinking (5 or more drinks in a row in the last two weeks), 14% report having 10 or more drinks in a row, and 5% report consuming 15 or more drinks in a row at least once.  Male students continue to report higher prevalence rates than their female peers on all three levels of dangerous consumption, especially extreme levels of binge drinking.

While alarming, there is some positive news in these numbers.  Binge drinking has decreased 16% over the past two decades among college students, down from 43% in 1991.  Furthermore, since the inception of The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility the proportion of students who have reported consuming alcohol in their lifetime, annually, in the past 30 days, or binge drinking has decreased among students in every grade level – eighth, tenth, twelfth grade, and college students. 

We are making progress, to find out more about innovative ways The Foundation for Advancing Alcohol Responsibility is working with college students, campus administrators, and parents, as well as other key stakeholders, to address the problem of overconsumption on college campuses, learn more about binge drinking and download our “Parents You’re Not Done Yet” brochure for information on talking to your college-age son or daughter about responsible drinking.