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August 27, 2002

National survey shows lower alcohol and drug use at CSUS

California State University, Sacramento students drink less alcohol than their counterparts nationwide and are considerably less likely to engage in high-risk drinking, according to an ongoing, nationwide study of college students.

The Core Alcohol and Drug Survey by the Core Institute at Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, shows CSUS students on average consume 2.6 drinks per week, compared to 5.2 for students nationwide. And 28.9 percent of CSUS students had "binged" (drank five drinks at a sitting) within the previous two weeks compared to 42 percent nationwide.

The spring 2002 survey includes responses from 1,627 students at CSUS, as well as students at 159 other universities.

The survey also found marijuana use is somewhat lower among CSUS students than college students nationwide. At CSUS, 15.7 percent of students reported using marijuana in the previous 30 days, compared to 19 percent nationwide. The use of other illegal drugs among CSUS students was generally a little lower than the national sample.

"While our students may be exhibiting somewhat healthier behaviors than their peers on other campuses, we must continue our efforts to reduce high-risk behaviors related to alcohol and other drug use," says Shirley Uplinger, vice president of student affairs at CSUS.

In addition to extensive information on alcohol and drug use, the survey examined a variety of opinions about the campus environment.

Among the key findings was that 92.3 percent of CSUS students felt safe on campus. This is in line with CSUS police statistics, which show the campus has a lower crime rate than the surrounding area and the city as a whole.

Other findings from the CSUS portion of the report include:

• 53.2 percent of underage CSUS students had consumed alcohol in the previous 30 days.

• White and Hispanic students, and students ages 21 to 22, are more likely to binge drink. Binge drinkers tend to drink weekly.

• 33.1 percent of CSUS students would prefer not to have alcohol available at parties they attend; 83.6 percent would prefer not to have drugs available at parties they attend.

• 64.7 percent of CSUS students said the campus' social atmosphere does not promote alcohol use; 86.7 percent said the campus' social atmosphere does not promote drug use.

• 69 percent of CSUS students said their friends would disapprove if they binge drank. 59.5 percent say their friends would disapprove of them using marijuana occasionally, and 86 percent say they would disapprove of them experimenting with cocaine or LSD.

Recent years have seen increased efforts at CSUS to promote healthier lifestyle habits among students while encouraging responsible use of alcohol and discouraging illegal drug use.

Incoming students and their parents are given presentations on alcohol and drug use, and students living on campus are offered a variety of educational programs. Health fairs and events are held throughout the year on campus. More than 1,000 members of fraternities and sororities attend presentations on alcohol abuse and related issues each year. Beer sales at football games are strictly controlled. And professional staff have been assigned to coordinate and develop alcohol and drug information programs.

Among the new efforts this year will be a "social norms" campaign aimed at reducing drug use and alcohol abuse by clearing up student misperceptions. For example, 85.6 percent of CSUS student believe the average student on campus drinks more than once per week - four times higher than the actual number reportedly drinking at that frequency (16.9 percent). In addition, the University has received a competitive grant from the Office of Traffic Safety to increase its initiatives relative to alcohol abuse.

More information about the survey is available at the SIUC/Core Institute website at www.siu.edu/departments/coreinst/public_html/index.html. More information about social norms is available at www.socialnorms.org.

Additional media assistance is available by contacting CSUS public affairs at (916) 278-6156.

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California State University, Sacramento • Public Affairs
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