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More College Students Dying from Drinking, NIAAA Reports

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Alcohol-related deaths, heavy drinking and drunk driving are all increasing among U.S. college students, according to a report from the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

Alcohol-related deaths among college students ages 18-24 rose from 1,440 in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005, according to the study by researcher Ralph Hingson, director of NIAAA's Division of Epidemiology and Prevention Research, and colleagues. Most of the deaths were due to traffic-related incidents.

During the same period, the proportion of students reporting binge drinking rose from 42 percent to 45 percent, and reported drunk driving rose from 26.5 percent of students to 29 percent.

“These are tragically and unacceptably high figures that indicate an urgent need for colleges and surrounding communities to implement evidence-based prevention and counseling programs,” said Hingson.

The findings appear in a July 2009 supplement to the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs. The supplement includes more than a dozen studies on college alcohol prevention derived from NIAAA's Rapid Response to College Drinking Problems initiative.

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