By Hilary White
A new report by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA) at Columbia University found that forty-nine per cent (3.8 million) of full time college students binge drink and/or abuse prescription and illegal drugs.
The study, titled Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities, also found that 1.8 million, 22.9 per cent, met the medical criteria for substance abuse and dependence, two and a half times the rate of the general population.
The 231-page report was completed after over four years of research and is the largest study ever undertaken of substance abuse on US college campuses. Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s chairman and president and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare said, “In this world of fierce global competition, we are losing thousands of our nation’s best and brightest to alcohol and drugs, and in the process robbing them and our nation of their promising futures.”
The CASA study found that while there was no decline in the proportion of students who drink (70 to 68 percent) and binge drink (40 to 40 percent) from 1993 to 2005, the intensity of excessive drinking and rates of drug abuse have jumped sharply.
From 1993 and 2001 the proportion of students who binge drink frequently is up 16 per cent; who drink on 10 or more occasions in a month, up 25 per cent; who get drunk at least three times a month, up 26 per cent; and who drink to get drunk, up 21 per cent.
Such astonishingly high rates of substance abuse among the young can come as little surprise to the authors of a previous study linking poor school performance and substance abuse with high rates of divorce and the breakdown of the traditional family structure.
The U.S Center for Marriage and Family released a study in November 2005 that showed a correlation between abuse of alcohol or drugs, poor educational standings and divorce or other irregular family situations.
The earlier study compared education outcomes from children growing up with their own married parents to children in non-intact family structures such as divorced, single, remarried or cohabiting parents. Adolescents living in a situation other than with their own married father and mother, the report found, were at higher risk for smoking, using drugs and consuming alcohol.
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