Drinking Alcohol and Subjective Well-Being among College Students

The negative effects of alcohol abuse by many college students is well-documented. However, evidence suggests that alcohol use by college and university students may also be associated with positive outcomes such as subjective well-being. Subjective well-being includes components of life satisfaction, positive affect and negative affect.

A study of Canadian university students explored the subject. At the end of their first term, paper-and-pencil data on their subjective well-being were collected from first-year students. Near the end of their third year, data were again collected from the same students. The follow-up completion rate was 75%.

Greater alcohol consumption (higher quantity and frequency of consumption, more frequent intoxication, more frequent heavy episodic drinking -- sometimes called "binge drinking) predicted greater subjective well-being.


  • Molnar, D.S, et al. A longitudinal examination of alcohol use and subjective well-being in an undergraduate sample. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, 2009, 70(5), 704-713.

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