College Alcohol Drinking Survey Misleads Public

Research on American college student drinking conducted by Henry Wechsler of Harvard University is misleading the public, according to a national leader in alcohol abuse prevention efforts. Wechsler has defined bingeing in such a way that a student who has never even been intoxicated can be labeled a binger.3a This is totally inconsistent with the way the word is used by both clinicians and the public.

The Director of the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention, Dr. William DeJong, says that Wechsler's use of the word binge is misleading. "He's taken a term that the public associates with an out-of-control, multiday bender" and misused it.

Dr. DeJong explains that "What that communicates to the public, in a headline is that almost half of the students are out of control in their drinking. If you go on campus, most students will say that is nuts." And, of course, research clearly demonstrates that they are right.

Dr. DeJong emphasizes that falsely labeling students as bingers demonizes tham and is counter-productive in reducing alcohol abuse. It actually makes the problem worse. [see Binge Drinking]

The bottom line is that by exaggerating the extent of so-called binge drinking, this research may be part of the problem rather than the solution.


  • Thomas, A., and Powers, S. More college students choosing not to drink. Columbus Dispatch (3/15/00)

Filed Under: Alcohol Abuse