1.4 million college kids will drink alcohol today

By Christopher Ingraham

Thai Nguyen/Flickr

On any given day in America, roughly 1.4 million college students between the ages of 18 and 22 — or more than 1 out of every 8 American undergrads — will drink alcohol, according to new data from the federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.

Those who partake will consume an average of about four drinks each — just below the five-drink threshold that defines binge drinking. Of course, many of them will drink more than that. Many will drink less.

Other young people will opt to alter their consciousness with different substances. Roughly 900,000 college students, or 1 in 12, will get stoned. About 15,000 will do cocaine, 13,000 will do hallucinogens of some kind (magic mushrooms, LSD), and more than 7,200 will do heroin.

The very next day, the exact same scenario will play out again. Some of those who drink and do drugs tomorrow will be the same ones who drank and did drugs today. Others will take a break from the partying, perhaps waiting a day, a week or a month before doing it again.

[Think you drink a lot? This chart will tell you.]

It all adds up to paint a vivid picture of the prevalence of substance use among college kids in America today. This isn’t necessarily a problem — statistically speaking, most of this drinking and drug-taking is normal behavior. Most college drinkers and drug users graduate on to their next phase of life without suffering any adverse consequences from all those nights at the bar.

But if it’s normal behavior, it also isn’t without risk. On-campus drinking and drug use is associated with higher dropout rates. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and …read more