Research & Resources

Prevalence of Heavy Episodic Drinking and Alcohol Use Disorder Diagnosis Among US College Students: Results from the National Healthy Minds Study

This study examined alcohol use in a national sample of U.S. college students across 78 campuses using four waves of data from the 2015–2019 Healthy Minds Study. Researchers explored variations by student demographics in prevalence of recent alcohol consumption, heavy episodic drinking (HED, or at least 4–5 drinks in one sitting), frequent HED (at least 3 HED events), and lifetime alcohol use disorder diagnosis. Two-thirds of students consumed alcohol and roughly one-third engaged in HED in the past 2 weeks. Alcohol use was more common among students who identified as cis; bisexual or gay/lesbian/queer; non-Hispanic White; or not first generation, as well as those who lived in Greek or off-campus housing or those who did not rate religion as important. The prevalence of HED among recent drinkers was high (56.7%), but varied by gender identity, race-ethnicity, living situation, and religiosity. In addition, higher HED prevalence was reported among international, undergraduate, and students under age 21. There was little variation in HED by sexual orientation identity or first-generation status among recent drinkers. Findings indicated there are opportunities for improved programming and outreach acknowledging college student diversity.

This paper, “Prevalence of heavy episodic drinking and alcohol use disorder diagnosis among US college students: Results from the national Healthy Minds Study,” was funded by the National Institute of Mental Health and published in the journal Addictive behaviors.

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