The purpose of this study was to estimate the prevalence of parental problems drinking reported by a national sample of college students and to examine the relations between such reports and respondents' patterns of drinking, alcohol abuse and abstinence, and utilization of treatment/counseling.
Responses to mailed questionnaires completed by a random sample of 17,592 students at a representative national sample of 140 four-year colleges were analyzed using logistic regression. About 10% of college students reported problem-drinking parents. These children of problem drinkers (COPDs) exhibited a bimodal pattern of drinking behavior, showing higher than normal odds of past year abstinence or heavy episodic drinking. Males were more likely than females to report heavy episodic drinking, and children of affected mothers were at greatest risk. Approximately 23% of COPDs met proxy DSM-IV alcohol abuse criteria. COPDs in college are a heterogeneous group showing both vulnerability and resistance. Those reporting treatment are more likely to be abstainers.