College Drinking Culture: Men and Women Differ

“Drink! Drink! Drink! Drink!”, a familiar chant during a typical Friday night on campus. Students are hanging upside down chugging down a keg, coolers filled with jungle juice and alcohol games in every room you turn in. Has college drinking gone too far? Is it time we change the culture? Depending on whom you talk to this topic  can become reasonably controversial.

Young adults between the ages of 18–25 report high rates of alcohol consumption, including heavy episodic (binge) drinking, defined as consuming five or more drinks at a time (Kate, 2007). Compared to their peers not attending college, college students consume larger quantities of alcohol on drinking occasions (Kate, 2007), and as many as 43% of undergraduates report heavy episodic drinking at least once in the last two weeks (Kate., 2007). 90% of college schools provided counseling and treatment services for students, and nearly as many provided prevention services (e.g., alcohol education) for freshmen or other at-risk groups.

Three major findings emerged from a A meta-analytic review for Individual-level interventions to reduce college student drinking:

(a) individual-level alcohol interventions for college drinkers reduce alcohol use

(b) these interventions also reduce alcohol-related problems, and reductions in problems vary by sample and intervention characteristics

(c) the contrast between students who receive interventions and those in control conditions diminishes over time. provides comprehensive research-based information on issues related to alcohol abuse and binge drinking among college students. An alcohol prevention strategy they propose involves parents and it is called, “Fall Semester—A Time for Parents to Discuss the Risks of College Drinking”. As college students arrive on campus in the fall, it’s a time of new experiences, new friendships, and making memories that will shape their future; for many students, it is also a time of underage drinking.

Outlined is the prevention strategies parents are urged to help reduce unhealthy alcohol use by:

  • Talking with students about the dangers of harmful and underage college drinking—such as the penalties for underage drinking, and how alcohol use can lead to sexual and other violence, as well as academic failure and other adverse consequences.
  • Reaching out periodically and keeping the lines of communication open, while staying alert for possible alcohol-related problems.
  • Reminding students to feel free to reach out to them to share information about their daily activities, and to ask for help if needed.
  • Learning about the school’s alcohol prevention and emergency intervention efforts.
  • Making sure students know the signs of alcohol overdose or an alcohol-related problem, and how to help.

Now with all this said, would you think there needs to be different prevention strategies for women and men?

The short answer is yes. Gender differences in alcohol use and associated problems have been the focus of research and news stories to develop prevention strategies. Below are a few links of alcohol gender based differences: 

Why alcohol affects women more than men

Think Before you drink: Alcohol Affects Men and Women & Differently

Women appear to be more vulnerable than men to many adverse consequences of alcohol use. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) documents that women achieve higher concentrations of alcohol in the blood and become more impaired than men after drinking equivalent amounts of alcohol. Research from the NIAAA also suggests that women are more susceptible than men to alcohol-related organ damage and to trauma resulting from traffic crashes and interpersonal violence. 

In order to be an effective alcohol prevention strategy there must be a focus on the problems affecting that subgroup of the population, being men and women in this case. The World Health Organization (WHO) developed a framework called the strategic communications framework. The purpose of this Framework is to describe a strategic approach for effectively communicating information, advice and guidance across a broad range of health issues. In order to communicate effectively across the audiences (men/women), the prevention strategy has to be tailored to them. Everyone knows that men and women think different, act different and are different, after all men are from Mars and women are from Venus. 


Fact Sheet For New College Students And Parents. (n.d.). Retrieved from

H. Wechsler, M. Seibring, I.C. Liu, M.Ahl Colleges respond to student binge drinking: Reducing student demand or limiting access
Journal of American College Health, 52 (2004), pp. 159-168

Kate B. Carey, Lori A.J. Scott-Sheldon, Michael P. Carey, Kelly S. DeMartini, Individual-level interventions to reduce college student drinking: A meta-analytic review, Addictive Behaviors,

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism,  No. 46. Are Women More Vulnerable to Alcohol’s Effects?

World Health Organization. WHO strategic communications framework.



Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *