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Drinking on college campuses on the rise

Tuesday - 2/7/2012, 7:19am  ET

Michelle Basch, wtop.com

WASHINGTON - For parents with children in college or planning to attend soon, a new report could be an eye-opener.

It suggests alcohol abuse remains a big problem among college students.

The study comes from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration in Rockville, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

It found that 12,000 college students nationwide between the ages of 18 and 24 enrolled in publicly-funded substance abuse treatment programs in 2009.

"The big thing sticking out is ... of those 12,000 kids who are in college, almost half -- 46.6 percent -- are going into treatment because of alcohol," says Dr. Peter Delany.

Compare that to 30.6 percent among non-college students in the same age group.

Delany says good work is being done on many college campuses to fight alcohol abuse.

"I think they're really working hard to deal with this across the country," he says. "(But) I think the story here is that we haven't done enough yet."

Other SAMHSA studies have found that one in four full time college students have experienced alcohol abuse or dependence in the year before they were questioned.

Delany hopes the results of the latest study move some moms and dads to take action.

"Ideally what I'd really love is...that a parent would take a look at it and say, 'Let me have a sit-down conversation with my kid,'" Delany says.

Here are more results from the newest SAMHSA report:

  • The percentage of college students who entered substance abuse treatment programs for marijuana use is similar to that of young people not in college. The numbers look like this: 30.9 percent for college students and 30 percent for non-college students.

  • In several other categories, college students had lower rates of admission to substance abuse programs than non-students. For heroin use, the rate was 7.2 percent for college students and 16.1 percent for non-students. For other opiates, the rate was 8.3 percent for college students and 10.5 percent for non-students.

For more information about preventing alcohol abuse on college campuses, click here.

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(Copyright 2012 by WTOP. All Rights Reserved.)