Alcohol Use Disorders and the Use of Treatment Services Among College-Age Young Adults

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Abstract

Objectives

This study examined the utilization of and the perceived need for alcohol treatment services among college-age young adults (18–22 years) according to their educational status: full-time college students, part-time college students, noncollege students (currently in school with the highest grade level below college), and nonstudents (N=11,337). This breakdown of young adults had not been addressed previously.

Methods

Secondary analyses were conducted on data from the 2002 National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Results

Full-time college students (21%) were as likely to have an alcohol use disorder as nonstudents (19%), but were more likely than part-time college students (15%) and noncollege students (12%). Only 4% of full-time college students with an alcohol use disorder received any alcohol services in the past year. Of those with an alcohol use disorder who did not receive treatment services, only 2% of full-time college students, close to 1% of part-time college students, and approximately 3% of young adults who were not in college reported a perceived need for alcohol treatment. Full-time college students were less likely than noncollege students to receive treatment for alcohol use disorders. All young adults with an alcohol use disorder were very unlikely to perceive a need for alcohol treatment or counseling.

Conclusions

College-age adults have a high prevalence of alcohol use disorders, yet they are very unlikely to receive alcohol treatment or early intervention services or to perceive a need for such services. Underutilization of alcohol-related services among college-age young adults deserves greater research attention. (Psychiatric Services 58:192–200, 2007)

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