Most College Students Drink in Moderation: Many Abstain

Most college students drink in moderation. Research has long found that heavy drinking among students is less common than people generally think.

Alcohol Abstainers

Nationally, about 20 percent of college students don’t drink alcohol at all. For example, at the University of Missouri, that’s 6,000 alcohol abstainers. The Missouri College Health Behavior Survey was done at UM. It found that most students consume zero to four drinks per week.

For those who do drink, it’s not high on their priority lists. Dr. Kim Dude is head of the Wellness Resource Center at UM. She says this. “According to our scientifically sound surveys, drinking is fifth on the list of what university students do for fun, and seventh or eighth in terms of relieving stress.”

“We accept that underage drinking does occur,” Dude said. “But we put things into perspective and focus on drinking the safe way. Our hope is that if students do choose to drink, they keep their blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at 0.05 or below.” For more, visit How Alcohol Affects Us: The Biphasic Curve.

Most Students Responsible

Most students don’t drink on Sunday to Thursday nights and the vast majority eat before drinking. They alternate between consuming alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.

Dr. Dude says that most students who choose to drink “make healthy, smart and safe decisions.” She makes five suggestions for safe drinking:

    • Don’t drink and drive. Always use a designated driver.
    • Keep your blood alcohol concentration (BAC) at 0.05 or below.
    • Don’t drink during the week.
    • Watch out for the safety and welfare of your friends.
    • Don’t be pressured into drinking if you choose not to drink.

Here are more tips:

    • Eat food or nibble while you drink.
    • Sip your drinks.
    • Don’t try to “keep up” with the drinking of others.
    • Have no more than one standard alcoholic drink per hour.
    • Be careful with punch or drinks in unusual size containers. They’re not standard drinks so it’s hard to pace them.
    • If taking any meds, follow directions about drinking with them.
    • Keep in mind that standard drinks of beer, glass of dinner wine, or shot of spirits have the same amount of pure alcohol.

      students drink in moderation
      Standard Drinks

Remember that most college students drink in moderation. And a large minority don’t drink at all.

Most College Students Drink in Moderation

Legal Drinking Ages
Most States Permit Drinking Under Age 21

Lee, M. Students and alcohol. Not a smart mix. Columbia Missourian.