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Nearly Half of Maryland College Students Surveyed Engage in Binge Drinking

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ANNAPOLIS, Md. - In an effort to target risk factors, a statewide collaborative led by the presidents of 10 colleges and universities, including the University of Maryland Eastern Shore, conducted a survey to provide a comprehensive look at excessive drinking among college students, the results of which were released today.

Forty-seven percent of the 4,209 student respondents engaged in binge drinking at least once during the past month, reflecting a rate similar to the national average.

For the purposes of this study, binge drinking is defined as five or more drinks in a row or within two hours for males and four or more for females.

According to University System of Maryland Chancellor Brit Kirwan, being on target with the national average is not sufficient.

“These numbers show the rate of student drinking on the campuses within the Maryland Collaborative is no better or worse than at other colleges, and we are determined to be better,” he said. “This survey gives us the necessary information to build on what colleges are already doing with new, more targeted strategies and develop interventions tailored to the specific needs of each school in our Collaborative.”

The results of the survey highlight what many previous studies have identified: the earlier young people start drinking, the more likely they are to develop alcohol problems. Students who drank excessively were more likely to experience negative consequences. The heaviest drinkers were also more likely to have started drinking before college and to report that their parents had permissive attitudes toward drinking in high school that only grew in college.

Ninety percent of students reported an ease of access to alcohol, even for underage drinkers. Two thirds of student drinkers drank at off-campus house parties, one in five took advantage of happy hour promotions at local bars, while one in 10 underage drinkers bought alcohol during low-priced promotions such as ladies' nights or drink specials.

Excessive drinking among college students is a statewide public health problem, according to the Maryland Collaborative to Reduce College Drinking and Related Problems.

Colleges and universities participating in the survey were: Allegany College of Maryland, Frostburg State University, Johns Hopkins University, Loyola University Maryland, McDaniel College, Notre Dame of Maryland University, Towson University, University of Maryland Baltimore County, University of Maryland College Park and University of Maryland Eastern Shore.

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