UMD College Student Drinking Trends 2000-2005
Kathleen C Quinn
Terry R Warness
Center for Addiction Studies
University of Minnesota Duluth
Faculty Research Supervisor:
J. Clark Laundergan, Ph.D.
This report describes characteristics of alcohol consumption among University of Minnesota Duluth (UMD) students between the years of 2000 and 2005. In these years (excluding 2001 and 2003) different samples of students took part in the National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey. In 2003, students completed a shorter survey that used questions identical to NCHA questions, as well as a few additional items of interest. In 2001, no survey was offered. The purpose of this report is to describe characteristics of alcohol consumption and consumers at UMD across the five years spanning from 2000 to 2005.
Respondents in each year were broken into three categories based on their responses to the question “The last time you partied/socialized, how many alcoholic drinks did you have?” The mean numbers of drinks for alcohol-using respondents on their last partying occasions were calculated for each year separately. Respondents were then broken into three categories based on their year’s mean number of drinks on their last drinking occasion. Categories were identified as “nondrinkers” (who drank no alcohol on their last partying occasion), as “below the mean drinkers” (who drank less than their year’s mean number of drinks), and as “at or above the mean drinkers” (who drank equal to or more than their year’s mean number of drinks).
For each year, the three categories’ responses to other survey items were compared in order to explore and describe health and lifestyle differences between different types of alcohol users at UMD.
Substantial findings resulting from this analysis are that:
- At or above the mean drinkers tended to drink more frequently, for longer periods of time, and in much greater amounts than below the mean drinkers. Nondrinkers tended to party far less frequently and for shorter periods of time than the other two categories.
- Males were the most likely to be at or above the mean drinkers, while females were the most likely to be below the mean- and non-drinkers.
- There was not a significant difference in the quantity of alcohol consumption between respondents who were under 21 years of age and those who were 21 years old or older.
- Respondents to the 2003 subset of questions indicated that students who were heavy drinkers in high school tended to be heavy drinkers in college, suggesting a need to extend research and prevention strategies into the high school years.
- At or above he mean drinkers were the most likely to report averaging “C” level grades in college, while nondrinkers were the most likely to report averaging “A” level grades in college.
- At or above the mean drinkers were by far the most likely to report negative academic consequences (such as missing classes or failing courses) resulting from their alcohol use, while below the mean drinkers reported less impairment, and nondrinkers reported almost none.
- At or above the mean drinkers reported the most negative consequences in their personal lives resulting from their alcohol use. These consequences include fighting, forgetting or regretting what occurred while drinking, and even forced and unprotected sex. Below the mean drinkers reported these consequences far less than at or above the mean drinkers, and nondrinkers reported very few if any.
- At or above the mean drinkers reported smoking cigarettes and marijuana the most, while nondrinkers reported smoking cigarettes and marijuana the least.
- At or above the mean drinkers and below the mean drinkers were far more likely than the nondrinkers to report using condoms during oral, vaginal, and anal sex.
- At or above the mean drinkers and below the mean drinkers were the most likely to have been diagnosed with depression in the last year before taking the survey.
Alcohol consumption is clearly related to the health and lifestyles of UMD students. From 2000 to 2005, it has been shown that the heaviest drinkers experienced the most negative consequences in their academic and personal lives resulting from excess alcohol consumption. The heaviest drinkers used other mood-altering drugs, such as tobacco and marijuana, the most, and they also were the most likely to have been recently diagnosed with depression. Highlighting these trends of the correlation between heavy alcohol consumption and risky, negative behaviors and consequences underscores the importance of continued research, prevention, and intervention strategies aimed at reducing the harm caused by excess alcohol consumption.