May 6, 2004

Survey Reveals Student Drug Use Habits

Print More

Several Cornell students participated in the Core Drug and Alcohol Survey in the fall of 2003.

The survey, developed by the Core Institute at Southern Illinois University, could be taken on the institute’s website and asked a random sample of students questions related to drug and alcohol behavior.

Questions included what age a student first used tobacco, marijuana or alcohol as well as the number of drinks a student consumed per week. Deborah Lewis, alcohol projects coordinator at Gannett: Cornell University Health Services, invited four thousand Cornell students to go to the website and fill out the survey. Results were then posted on the President’s Council on Alcohol and other Drugs website.

Out of those four thousand students, approximately 1,595 students responded. Survey results on the website include that seventy-seven percent of students surveyed had used alcohol in the previous thirty days while twenty percent used marijuana.

Thirty-three percent of students surveyed had suffered memory loss as a result of alcohol or drug use at least once in the previous year.

Ten percent of students surveyed thought they “might have a problem.”

The site also compares Cornell’s results with other colleges and universities.

Tim Marchell ’82, director of alcohol policy initiatives at Gannett, said that overall there were not dramatic changes in alcohol and drug use between 2000 and 2003. He also remarked that there was a significant decline in designer drugs such as ecstasy. Lewis said that there was a small increase in those students who drink five to eight drinks per sitting.

“There’s some indication that the increases that do exist are among women,” said Marchell.

Lewis and Marchell both agreed that such a result was unfortunate due to the fact that “women are at a greater risk when drinking the same amount as men,” remarked Marchell.

Lewis explained that the greater risk is because women have more body fat than men, and fat tends to keep alcohol in the body. Women also have less of the enzyme in their stomach that breaks down alcohol.

Marchell explained that the survey serves Cornell in many ways. The information is shared with student leaders and faculty in order to increase awareness and promote behavioral change.

The data is also used in one-on-one consultations at Gannett. Lewis said that she might point out to a student who frequently drinks that he or she falls among the 3.6 percent of students who consume alcohol five times per week.

Lewis remarked that the survey has led to “very interesting conversations.”

In spite of results that the majority of Cornell students have little or no participation in alcohol and/or drug use, “the data shows us there is substantial damage” resulting from use in 2003, Marchell said.

Archived article by Ikea Hamilton
Sun Staff Writer