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Alcohol use common among college students with disabilities, who report higher rates of binge drinking than their peers without disabilities

Students with disabilities (SWD) comprise roughly 11% of U.S. college population, yet little is known about their drinking behaviors. A new study explored alcohol use and binge drinking among a national sample of students aged 18 years and older who had registered disabilities with their respective institutions. Participants (n = 2,440) were selected using a random, stratified, multistage cluster sampling technique and completed a survey with validated items about alcohol and other drug use, type of disability, and demographic information. Respondents were classified as binge drinkers if they had engaged in heavy episodic drinking (consumption of at least five drinks in one sitting by males and four drinks in one sitting by females) within the past year and non-binge drinkers if they had consumed alcohol in the past year, but did not meet binge drinking criteria. The authors used multiple logistic regression to identify compare potential correlates of alcohol use between these two groups. Results of this analysis showed 10% (n = 128) of respondents reported at least one episode of binge drinking within the past two weeks and 70% of respondents (n = 715) reported binge drinking in the past year, compared to the national college student average of less than 40%. SWDs who reported using marijuana or amphetamines were significantly more likely (OR = 1.60 and 1.74, respectively) to binge drink. Spending more than two hours per day socializing was also positively associated with binge drinking (OR = 1.17).

Take away: In this sample, 70% of students with disabilities (SWDs) engaged in past-year binge drinking, compared to only 40% of general college student population. Using other drugs and socializing were positively associated with binge drinking among SWDs.

Citation: West SL, Graham CW & Temple P. (2017). Rates and correlates of binge drinking among college students with disabilities, United States, Public Health Reports, 1-9

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