That's the portrait painted by a new, comprehensive report tying together a range of recent research on college substance abuse, supplemented with some of its own new survey data.
The report by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, argues that substance abuse isn't an inevitable rite of passage for young adults. Rather, it argues a particular culture of excessive consumption has flourished on college campuses, and calls on educators to take bolder stands against students and alumni to combat it.
"If they make this a priority they can do something about it," said Joseph Califano, chairman and president of the center, who among other steps called on colleges and the NCAA to stop allowing alcohol advertising during high-profile events like the NCAA men's basketball tournament.
The report, released Thursday, relies largely on research that has already appeared in various forms, but assembles it to emphasize findings particular to college students.
Among the highlights:
Young adults in general have higher abuse rates, so a higher rate for college students is to be expected. But other research indicates that college students drink more than high school peers who don't go to college, said Henry Wechsler of the Harvard School of Public Health, who published similar findings in 2002.