Being in college is often thought to be tied to drinking too much. But a new study partly dispels this perception as researchers found that excessive drinking is more likely tied to age and not living with parents or having adult responsibilities.
Pennsylvania State University researchers used a national sample to examine the association between being a college student and changes in excessive drinking from late adolescence through young adulthood. Investigators also reviewed whether students’ residing with their parents during the school year affected the association.
Data analysis was performed on information gathered 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 >seven 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.
Investigators discovered that being a student is not a universal risk factor for excessive drinking across the ages of 18 to 30 years.
However, students of a certain age, and in certain student groups do drink excessively. This behavior was found 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.
The study appears in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.