Objectives: This study examines the individual correlates of college student binge drinking.
Methods: Questionnaires were completed by a representative national sample (n=17,592) of students on 140 campuses in 1993. Binge drinking was defined as five or more drinks per episode for men and as four or more drinks per episode for women.
Results: Overall, 44% of the students (50% of the men and 39% of the women) binged. While demographic factors such as sex and race were significantly related to binge drinking, prior binging in high school was crucial, suggesting that for many students, binge drinking begins before college. The strongest predictors of college binge drinking were residence in a fraternity or sorority, adoption of a party-centered lifestyle, and engagement in other risky behaviors.
Conclusions: Interventions must be targeted at high school binge drinking as well as at several characteristics of college life most notably fraternity residence. Legal drinking age fails to predict binge drinking, raising questions about the effectiveness of the legal minimum drinking age of 21 in college alcohol policies.