College Underage Drinking and Server Responsibilities

Drinking at college has become a ritual that students often see as an integral part of their higher education experience. Many students come to college with established drinking habits, and the college environment can exacerbate the problem.

According to a national survey, almost 60 percent of college students ages 18–22 drank alcohol in the past month, and almost 2 out of 3 of them engaged in binge drinking.

Harmful and underage drinking remain significant problems on U.S. campuses, despite the collective efforts to address them. Alcohol-related problems can seem hard to control or deal with, leading to questions and frustration over how best to reduce student drinking and its negative consequences.

Alcohol Server Responsibilities

Back to school can be a busy time for anyone – especially alcohol servers. Don’t take shortcuts – check IDs. One of the best skills for an alcohol seller-server to have is how to keep an eye out for fake IDs.

Professionals who complete alcohol seller-server training are able to prevent sales to minors, recognize signs of intoxication, reduce liability, and effectively intervene in problem situation

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College: Prevalence of Alcohol Use

According to the 2015 Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH):

  • Prevalence of Drinking: 58.0% of full-time college students ages 18–22 drank alcohol in the past month compared with 48.2 percent of other persons of the same age.1
  • Prevalence of Binge Drinking: 37.9% of college students ages 18–22 reported binge drinking in the past month compared with 32.6 percent of other persons of the same age.1
  • Prevalence of Heavy Drinking: 12.5% of college students ages 18–22 reported heavy alcohol use in the past month compared with 8.5 percent of other persons of the same age.1

To learn more about the prevalence of college drinking, click here.

College: Consequences of Alcohol Use

According to statistics from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAA), each year:

  • 1,825 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor-vehicle crashes.2
  • 696,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are assaulted by another student who has been drinking.3
  • 97,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 report experiencing alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape.4
  • Roughly 20 percent of college students meet the criteria for an AUD.5
  • About 1 in 4 college students report academic consequences from drinking, including missing class, falling behind in class, doing poorly on exams or papers, and receiving lower grades overall.6

CollegeAIM – Alcohol Intervention Matrix

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) developed the CollegeAIM guide and website to help college personnel choose wisely among the many potential interventions to address harmful and underage college student drinking.

The centerpiece of the guide is a user-friendly, matrix-based tool developed with input from leading college alcohol researchers, along with college student life and alcohol and other drug (AOD) program staff. With this “college alcohol intervention matrix”—or CollegeAIM tool—school officials can easily use research-based information to inform decisions about alcohol intervention strategies.

If you are involved in efforts to reduce underage drinking and prevent alcohol-related harm on your campus, you are in a critical position to improve the health and safety of your students—and NIAAA’s CollegeAIM can help.

Case Study: Jennifer: What Really Happened

College students have been drinking alcohol for years, so when Jennifer’s parents decide to let her have a pool party with a little alcohol they figured – what could go wrong.

It was her 18th birthday, she was getting ready to start college and her older, responsible brother was going to be home. So they mix up a batch of “weak” margaritas, and remind her to be responsible before leaving.

A few posts on social media later and Jennifer is ready to celebrate with her best friend Cindy. A few more bottles of alcohol provided by her brother arrive along with a few more people than planned thanks to the numerous posts – it one of the first parties of summer vacation after all. Jennifer and her friends start celebrating and it does not take long for things to spiral out of control.

Jennifer and her family are left to face the realization that they are now responsible for damage caused when alcohol is provided to minors – “What Really Happened” impacts the community, friendships and everyone’s planned carefree summer.

Summary

As a Parent
If you’re a parent, there are things you can say and do to help. To stay involved while your child is away at school, talk to him or her about the dangers of underage drinking, such as sexual assault and DUI. Also, explain the penalties for underage drinking and underage DUI, and the consequences of a criminal conviction.

As an Alcohol Server
Bar, nightclub, and restaurant owners know that underage drinking can be a big problem and preventing underage drinking is a big responsibility.

Bartenders and alcohol servers should be on the lookout for anyone acting suspiciously or nervous when ordering a drink and should be in the habit of checking every ID—no matter how old the person looks.

Professionals who complete alcohol seller-server training are able to prevent sales to minors, recognize signs of intoxication, reduce liability, and effectively intervene in problem situations.

 

Additional College Drinking Information

References

  • 1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). 2015 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH). Table 6.84B—Tobacco Product and Alcohol Use in Past Month among Persons Aged 18 to 22, by College Enrollment Status: Percentages, 2014 and 2015. Available at: https://www.samhsa.gov/data/sites/default/files/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015/NSDUH-DetTabs-2015.htm#tab6-84b. Accessed 1/18/17.
  • 2 Hingson, R.W.; Zha, W.; and Weitzman, E.R. Magnitude of and trends in alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18–24, 1998–2005. Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs (Suppl. 16):12–20, 2009. PMID: 19538908 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2701090/
  • 3 Hingson R, Heeren T, Winter M. et al. Magnitude of alcohol-related mortality and morbidity among U.S. college students ages 18–24: changes from 1998 to 2001. Annual Review of Public Health 26: 259–279, 2005. PMID: 15760289  http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15760289
  • 4 Ibid.
  • 5 Blanco, C.; Okuda, M.; Wright, C. et al. Mental health of college students and their non-college- attending peers: Results from the National Epidemiologic Study on Alcohol and Related Conditions. Archives of General Psychiatry 65(12):1429–1437, 2008. PMID: 19047530 http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2734947/
  • 6 Wechsler, H.; Dowdall, G.W.; Maenner, G.; et al. Changes in binge drinking and related problems among American college students between 1993 and 1997: Results of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study. Journal of American College Health 47(2):57–68, 1998. PMID: 9782661 http://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/07448489809595621external link disclaimer