College Athletes Abusing Alcohol
According to a report published in June, student athletes are more likely to abuse alcohol than their peers.
The report-published in Addiction used data from the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA) that followed high school seniors through young adulthood with regular surveys that asked about their recent use of alcohol, cigarettes and drugs.
Of the 12,000 students surveyed, those who participated in team sports or general exercise were less likely to use cigarettes, marijuana and other illicit drugs. This is attributed to students associating cigarettes and illicit drugs with ill health and poor athletic performance.
However, 57 percent of student athletes said they had abused alcohol in the previous month. Compared to the 45 percent of non-exercisers that had said they had abused alcohol, this statistic is very high.
In an interview with CBS News Detroit, Y. McElrath--an author of the report--said this data can be put to good use in designing prevention programs or treatment programs which can help prevent substance abuse.
However, even if these statistics help create prevention programs, student athletes will still be subjected to the environmental influences on athletes as well as their sense of invulnerability and entitlement.
For some teams, drinking may be an important social activity, especially in post-game environments. Just consider the influence from sport sponsors-like the beer sponsors of the NCAA.
"At U of A, tailgating and post-game drinking is just part of the campus culture", a University of Alabama undergraduate said when asked to comment. "It's hard not to participate, especially when sports games are sponsored by beer companies".
Although this report has many convincing statistics, it is important to note that it is not the first time a report has linked participation in team sports to drinking. Also, not all students involved in team sports drink more and there are still many other theories that account for the increase in student-athlete drinking.
Terry-McElrath, Y., & O'Malley, P. (2011). Substance use and exercise participation among young adults: parallel trajectories in a national cohort-sequential study. Addiction, 106(10), 1855-1866.