Alcohol Harm Reduction Advisory Committee releases 2018 data

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Wednesday, August 1, 2018

The University of Iowa continues to make incremental progress on the frequency of undergraduate drinking and high-risk drinking, according to the latest National College Health Assessment (NCHA) survey.

UI Student Health and Wellness conducts NCHA surveys annually to collect anonymous data on undergraduate health practices, behaviors, and perceptions. The NCHA survey measures high-risk drinking as consuming five or more drinks on one occasion in the last two weeks.

According to the UI’s spring 2018 survey:

  • Of UI undergraduates, 49.6 percent reported engaging in high-risk drinking in the previous two weeks, which is a slight decrease from 50.5 percent in 2017.
  • The average number of drinks consumed per occasion is reported at 5.3, which is also a small decrease from 5.4 in 2017.
  • Undergraduates who used alcohol 10-plus days in last 30 days increased from 19 percent in 2017 to 22.7 percent in 2018.

The 2018 NCHA data show UI undergraduates drink more and experience more negative consequences from consuming alcohol than the national average, but since forming the UI Alcohol Harm Reduction Advisory Committee in 2009 the UI has made significant progress in reducing harmful drinking and its negative effects.

Compared to data from 2009, high-risk drinking at the UI has decreased by more than 29 percent, the number of undergraduates drinking 10 or more days a month has decreased by more than 37 percent, and undergraduates now consume an average of two fewer drinks per occasion.

“I’d like to thank the Alcohol Harm Reduction Advisory Committee for their continued work at addressing this issue on our campus and others across the country,” says Melissa Shivers, vice president for student life. “This latest report shows another year of small change in our alcohol use, which means we need to explore additional efforts to help bring us closer to the national average and continue creating a culture that maximizes student health and safety.”

The 2016–2019 Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan outlines goals and research-supported strategies for reducing drinking and its harmful effects. The committee will begin work on a new three-year plan in the fall, which will include a comprehensive list of evidence-based strategies to continue addressing high-risk drinking and its negative effects as well as survey data that show marijuana and other illicit drug use has increased.

The marijuana use (30-day prevalence) rate has gone up over last year, with just over one-third of students reporting use. That’s according to the survey, which also shows marijuana use has increased on college campuses nationally.

“Changing our culture around high-risk drinking and drug use takes everyone—students, families, and campus and local communities—all working together,” says Tanya Villhauer, UI associate director for harm reduction and strategic initiatives. “We’re looking forward to identifying new strategies and approaches to help continue decreasing the number of students using alcohol and other substances.”

Read the 2016–2019 Alcohol Harm Reduction Plan.

Read about the Partnership for Alcohol Safety.

View the National College Health Assessment Summary of the University of Iowa results from the spring of 2018.