Online Program

Racial Differences in College Student Alcohol Use

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Angela Robertson, Ph.D., Social Science Research Center (SSRC), Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS
Courtney Walker, M.S., Social Science Research Center (SSRC), Mississippi State University, Starkville, MS
Background: Drinking on college campuses is very common.  This is problematic because heavy drinking can lead to a number of health, safety, and academic consequences.  Although African Americans, ages 18 to 24, are just as likely as their White counterparts to consume alcohol, they have the lowest rates of heavy drinking. 

Methods: Undergraduate college students (N=682) completed a survey on alcohol attitudes, drinking motives, protective behavior strategies, drinking behavior and alcohol-related problems.  Participants were 55.3% female, 67.6% Caucasian and 32.4% African American, and ages 18 to 22 years.  Univariate and multivariate analyses were used to examine racial differences in factors associated with drinking and drinking behaviors. 

Results: The majority of African American (66.5%) and Caucasian (64.3%) college students reported drinking in the past 30 days.  However, Caucasian students drank more, were more likely to engage in binge drinking, and reported more alcohol-related problems than African American college students.  Potential protective factors for African American college students included less permissive attitudes towards drunkenness, greater use of behavioral strategies to limit drinking, and less involvement in Greek organizations.  Being male and White were associated with binge drinking, higher weekly alcohol consumption, and greater alcohol-related problems.  More frequent use of protective behavioral strategies was associate with less drinking and drinking problems.  Drinking motives were also associated with drinking behavior, but varied by the drinking measure. 

Conclusion: Reason for the observed racial differences and application of findings for alcohol misuse intervention strategies with college students will be discussed.

Learning Areas:

Social and behavioral sciences

Learning Objectives:
Identify how Caucasian and African American college students differ in alcohol use patterns and alcohol-related patterns. Explain why African American college students are at a lower risk for alcohol misuse.

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Qualified on the content I am responsible for because: I am qualified to be an abstract author on the content I am responsible for because I worked as an addiction treatment professional for 16 years. I have also conducted research on substance abuse issues among adolescents and offender populations and developed and evaluated substance abuse interventions for these populations for 20 years.
Any relevant financial relationships? No

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.