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Ages & Stages

Drinking Responsibly at College

Drinking is a huge problem on most college campuses. Most college students drink and a large number drink too much. Binge drinking (having 5 or more drinks in a short time) is common among both guys and girls. 

Heavy or binge drinking can lead to physical illness, long-term drinking problems, and even death. Drinking is known to increase sexual aggressiveness, which can lead to sexual harassment and date rape. Drinking also clouds your judgment. You can't think straight when you're drunk. You're also more likely to make unhealthy choices such as having unsafe sex, which may lead to sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies

The legal drinking age in the United States is 21. The best way to prevent drinking-related problems is to not drink.

If you are 21 and choose to drink, be smart. That means: 

  • Stop after 1 or 2 drinks.
  • Don't drink and drive.
  • Don't let friends drink and drive.
  • Don't ride with someone who has been drinking.
  • Don't drink with people you do not know.

If you feel you need to cut down on your drinking, if friends are concerned about your drinking, or if you ever feel guilty about something you have done while drinking, see a counselor at school. You may also be able to schedule a telehealth visit​ with your doctor. This can be a video or phone call to talk about your concerns and work together on a solution.​

More information

Last Updated
Health Care for College Students (Copyright © 2007 American Academy of Pediatrics, Updated 4/07)
The information contained on this Web site should not be used as a substitute for the medical care and advice of your pediatrician. There may be variations in treatment that your pediatrician may recommend based on individual facts and circumstances.
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