College “Binge Drinking” Drops

Heavy episodic drinking (sometimes called “binge drinking”) is down 20 to 30 percent at the University of Washington and the proportion of abstainers has been going up, says Dr. Alan Marlatt.

Most students drink as part of the natural process of growing up. Experimenting with alcohol is part of the college experience and unavoidable for most students. Although not all college students can legally drink alcoholic beverages, Dr. Marlatt says all students who do choose to drink need to do so in an educated and safe way.

Abstinence-based policies, such as zero tolerance, tend to have a negative impact on drinking behaviors because they are forced underground, emphasized Dr. Marlatt. The Assistant Chief of Police, Ray Wittmier, added that when student drinking does go underground, it creates more of a threat to both students and others.

“I will not condone underage drinking, but those who do drink need to drink in moderation. We’re not blind to the fact that drinking goes on, and so we recognize that safety is the most important thing,” said the Assistant Chief.

Fortunately, the vast majority of all college student who drink heavily will dramatically reduce their drinking, noted Dr. Marlatt.

To learn more about heavy drinking, visit Binge Drinking.


  • Christiansen, Tom. Binge drinking dropping. The Daily (University of Washington), 3-9-04.

Filed Under: Alcohol Abuse