College matriculation is often associated with increases in the frequency and intensity of drinking. This study used a national sample to examine the association between being a college student and changes in excessive drinking from late adolescence through young adulthood and whether students' residing with their parents during the school year affected the association.
Researchers analyzed data from the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions for 8,645 non-high school young adults aged 18 to 30 years. Excessive drinking in the past year was defined for men as ≥10 standard drinks per occasion and for women as ≥8) standard drinks per occasion. Exceeding weekly drinking guidelines was defined as >14 drinks per week for men and >7 drinks per week for women. Students who resided away from their parents and students who lived with their parents during the school year were compared to non-students.
Results showed that being a student is not a universal risk factor for excessive drinking across the ages of 18 to 30 years. While being a student was associated with excessive drinking, this was true only at certain ages and for certain student groups: for example, during the traditional college ages of the early 20s and for those students living away from home. The authors speculate that it may not necessarily be student status that is related to increased odds of excessive drinking during the early 20s, but rather an absence of demands associated with commitments such as full-time employment, marriage, and parenthood.
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