Trends in alcohol consumption among college students are quite different from those of high school seniors. However, according to the Monitoring the Future Study, occasions of heavy drinking (defined as five or more drinks in a row at least once in the past two weeks) among college and high school seniors increased from 2011 to 2012. The overall trend in heavy drinking among college students continues to show a decline in consumption, decreasing 16 percentage points (44% to 37%) since 1980 compared to a 41 percentage point decline in the rate of heavy drinking among high school seniors (40% to 24%) during this same time period.

Overall, the prevalence of college drinking over the past two decades, measured as lifetime, annual, and past 30-day consumption rates have all declined. Since 1991, lifetime consumption among college students has declined 14% proportionately, while annual consumption and monthly consumption are down 10% and 9%, respectively. Despite this long-term progress, over the past ten years trends in college drinking have remained relatively unchanged.


There are also substantial gender differences in alcohol consumption among college students and young adults, with college males drinking more than females. In 2012, four out of ten college males (43%) reported consuming five or more drinks in a row during the previous two weeks compared to one-third of their college female peers (34%).

(Source: Monitoring the Future national survey results on drug use, 1975–2011: Volume I2, College students and adults ages 19–50. Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. 2013)