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College students and alcohol consumption: a comparison between India and the United States Introduction: Alcohol consumption among college students has been a growing concern among both parents and administrators and research has shown that this is a problem that has been developing not just in the United States but, all across the planet. Data has shown that alcohol consumption has been consistently high over the past few decades and has been increasing in that same time period. Administrators have attempted to curb student alcohol consumption in the past but, many of these efforts have often been in vain and heavy and abusive consumption of alcohol on college campuses by students seems to be the norm (Maddock, LaForge, Rossi and OHare 2001). Studies have repeatedly shown that drinking is a problem that persists across a variety of demographic such as age, gender and race. Many believe that the large scale consumption of alcoholic substances depends on a variety of factors including whether or not students live in a dormitory, take part in social activities or join fraternities or sororities (Lorant, Nicaise, Solo and dHoore 2013). This study is dedicated to measuring the drinking habits of college students in both the United States and India; it looks into other variables such as demographics and the behaviors that accompany drinking and then cross references them in order to discover whether or not these demographics have an effect on drinking behavior. It also studies the differences in drinking habits across different demographics and then attempts to compare and contrast the differences between them. A Review of past literature: In order to understand the drinking habits of college students and to conclude whether or not these resulted in compulsive alcohol consumption and other related issues

Alcohol consumption of college students

Pedrelli et al. (2013) used the CHQ compulsive use of alcohol item to identify the number of students who were at risk of experiencing consequences of chronic alcohol abuse. The study involved 332 college students 62.3% of whom were female, 77.7% of who were white, and 94.6% of who were not international students. The mean age was 19+/-1.7 years of age. The data was collected at mid-sized Boston University that remained anonymous. They used measures like the Drug Abuse Screening Test (DAST), the Consumptive Habits Questionnaire (CHQ), the Obsessive Compulsive Drinking Scale (OCDS), and the Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT). They learned that 17.6% of college males and 12.1% of females displayed risky behavior. 93% of males reported the use of illicit drugs. They came to the understanding that among males the compulsive use of alcohol occurred alongside the use of compulsive use of illicit drugs. However they were unable to perceive the frequency of alcohol abuse. With regard to women they found that many of the female participants consumed alcohol frequently, but only a minority had alcohol related problems. Maddock, LaForge, Rossi and OHare (2001) studied alcohol use and the issues associated with alcohol. They used a revised version of the College Alcohol Problems Scale (CAPS) called CAPS-r which was an eight items, two factor scale for their first study. For their second study they used the Young Adult Problem Screening Test. In study one data was collected on 382 introductory psychology students. And for the second study 726 students participated in a university wide study. 40% of the respondents experienced many of the items on the survey and that males experienced social problems associated with drinking more often than females. The study showed that while males suffer from problems more frequently than females both genders score on the same scale with regard to personal problems.

Alcohol consumption of college students

Lorant, Nicaise, Soto and dHoore (2013) studied the effects of alcohol and the factors involved in drinking in Belgium as opposed to students in the United States. They sent a questionnaire to all bachelors and masters students at an unnamed Belgian university and they had a 31% participation rate which meant that their sample included 7015 students. The questionnaire focused on drinking behavior, college environmental factors, social involvement, positive drinking consequences and drinking norms. Higher exposure to social events, on average, resulted in higher levels of drinking and which each successive year spent at university drinking appeared to increase, but an increase in age also showed a decrease in drinking. However when studying a college town university in Louvain-la-Neuve and a university in Brussels they found that students in the college town drank more on average. Methodology: A survey consisting of 18 questions that were both open and closed ended was circulated using the social media website The purpose of the survey was to empirically define the drinking habits of college students. Going into the study, the belief was that males would be the most likely to drink the most frequently out of the various demographics and that Americans in general drink more often than their Indian counterparts. In the past this type of study that compared alcohol consumption simultaneously across borders has not been performed. was used in order to ensure that the survey was available to a large number of students from both countries. Most of the Americans were students of the Pennsylvania State University, while most of the Indians were from a wide variety of universities from all over the country. Most of the participants were expected to be between the ages of 18-

Alcohol consumption of college students

25. This resulted in most of the participants being undergraduates, with a minority of the participants being graduate students. A combination of various basic statistics was used in order to determine whether or not the relationship between different variables was significant. Significance in this case is defined as whether or not the relationship between two, or more, variables stands out from other similar comparisons. For example if it is found that males are found to be far more susceptible to peer pressure when compared to their female peers then we will consider such a relationship to be significant. In the past, most scholars have used established measures of alcohol consumption and dependence that are very rigorous from a statistical standpoint. But, for the purpose of this paper simpler methods of measurement will be used. Major Findings: Out of 450 or so potential respondents there were only 32 participants; this lead to an incredibly limited sample size, ultimately limiting the scope and accuracy of this study. The average age of the participants was 20.75(SD 1.29) years with a median 21 years. The participants were more or less evenly split between both genders. Men accounted for 59.3% of the respondents and women accounted for 40.6%. 78.12% were White American and only 21.87% were Indian. 17 of the participants were seniors summing up to 53% and 25% were juniors with the remainder being either fifth years, freshmen or sophomores. 40% of the participants were science majors and 28% were in business or a related major with the remainder being in liberal arts.

Alcohol consumption of college students

Distribution of Males and Females

40.63% 59.38%

Male Female

College Year distribution

21.88% Seniors Juniors 53.12% 25% Others

Alcohol consumption of college students

Distribution by Major



Science Business Other


On average the participants said that they drank 1.8 times per week with the median being once per week and a standard deviation of 1.25. 43% said that they drank during the week (Monday through Thursday). Vodka and beer were the popular choice of alcohol with 90% of all respondents saying that they preferred either drink with most preferring both. Then, on average, data indicated that men drink 2.3 times every week but women only drink 1.5 times a week on average.

Frequency of drinking: Men vs. Women

3 2.5 2 1.5 1 0.5 2.3 0 average Var SD 1.5 2.64 0.99 1.63 1.00 Male female

Alcohol consumption of college students

52.3% of the respondents said that they preferred to drink at a bar. This is due to the fact that a many of the respondents were seniors and thus over the age of 21, allowing them to go to bars and clubs. Beer and vodka were overwhelmingly popular, with 90.4% of the respondents listing either of those two as their preferred forms of alcohol. This may be due to their general popularity or because they are widely available and relatively cheap to boot. Science majors reported that they drank 1.8 times per week and non-science majors were only slightly higher at 1.9 times per week. In addition, very few science majors actually drank during the week, while non-science majors were more likely to drink during the week. Thus it is reasonable to assume that science major drink as much as other students, but just not during the week. This also means that they may be more likely to indulge in excessive drinking when the do actually take the time to consume alcohol. Comparing the frequency of drinking by ethnicity revealed that on average Americans drank 2.1 times per week with a median of 2 but Indians only drank 0.6 times per week on average with a median of 1.

Times people drink per week by ethnicity

2.5 2 1.5 White American 1 0.5 2.1 0 Average Median 0.6 2 1 Indian

Alcohol consumption of college students

When contrasting the difference in the frequency of drinking by year the participants were divided into first and second years, and third, fourth and fifth years. The results showed that first and second years only drank 1.67 times on average with a median of 1. On the other hand third fifth years drank 2.39 times on average with a median of 2. Unfortunately these results may have been compromised by the small number of freshmen and sophomore respondents.

Frequency of Drinking by year

3.00 2.50 2.00 1.50 1.00 0.50 1.67 0.00 average Median 2.39 1 2 Year 1-2 Years 3-5

56% of the participants said that they succumb to peer pressure and as a result drink 1.6 more drinks on average.

Alcohol consumption of college students

Percentage of people who succumb to peer pressure

43.75% 56.25%

No Yes

When comparing men and women with regard to peer pressure 9 out of 12 surveyed women said that they succumbed to peer pressure while only 9 of the 19 men surveyed said that they acceded to peer pressure. This is a significant difference between both genders that indicates that different genders react differently to peer pressure.

Comparison of how Men and Women react to peer pressure

12 10 10 8 6 4 2 0 Female Male 3 yes no 9 9

When taking ethnicity into account only 2 of the 5 Indians said that they would give in to peer pressure while consuming alcohol. On the other hand 16 of 27 Americans said that they

Alcohol consumption of college students


succumb to peer pressure. This particular part of the study is inhibited by a small sample size and as a result a larger sample size might yield difference results.

Comparison of Indians and Americans with regard to peer pressure

18 16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 2 0 Indian American 3 16 9 Yes No

And finally when comparing the effects of peer pressure by year in college:

Effects of peer pressure by year

16 14 12 10 8 6 4 2 0 Yes No AVG 15 2 11 2 1.5 2.5 Years 3-5 Years 1-2

Alcohol consumption of college students


The study showed that only 50% of first and second years succumbed to peer pressure while 15 out of 26 third through fifth year gave in to peer pressure. This part of a study has, once again, been hampered by a small sample of freshmen and sophomores. However I believe that with a larger sample size the effects of peer pressure will be more uniform. Discussion: Before the discussion begins in earnest, I believe that an explanation of the various limitations that this study suffers from in necessary. Firstly this study has a very small sample size with a bias towards white Americans. This means that the results that have been extrapolated from the data may not be an accurate portrayal of the total population. Secondly a vast majority of the American participants were students of the Pennsylvania State University. This means that even the results that can be drawn from my white American population may not be representative of the overall population. There may be differences in drinking habits in different states or there may be differences between colleges in college towns and those in cities. And finally there is a rather large bias in favor of juniors and seniors. Only 4 freshmen and sophomores took this survey. As a result the results may be skewed to be more representative of older students. The study found that on average Americans drink more often than Indians do. I believe that this is because of two main reasons: firstly most of the surveyed Indians come from socially conservative backgrounds and families where drinking is actively discouraged, and secondly many of them live at home as they study in the city and as a result cannot drink under the watchful eyes of their parents. Bars were also found to be very popular among both ethnicities. This is because in India most bars do not actively check a persons ID. Therefore it is possible

Alcohol consumption of college students


for people who are underage to acquire alcohol with no great difficulty. On the other hand most of the surveyed Americans were 21 or older meaning that they could very easily go to a bar. It would seem that drinking for social reasons is popular with both ethnicities. The statistics on frequency of drinking indicate the Americans are more likely to drink more often. This is probably due to the fact that most of the Americans live in their own apartments and can therefore indulge whenever they please. However as indicated above, the small sample size of the study may lead to misleading results. The results of the peer pressure study on the other hand are quite interesting. While just over 50% say that they succumb to peer pressure and the difference between Indians and Americans is insignificant, the difference between women and men is incredibly significant. Women appear to be much more likely to drink more because of peer pressure than men. This data shows that women are highly susceptible to peer pressure and are therefore at risk of dangerous behavior such as alcohol poisoning, unsafe sex etc. Conclusion: The results have shown that Americans in general appear to drink more frequently than their Indian counterparts. That being said, I believe that with a larger and more representative sample size different results may be seen. Similarly men drink more often than women. However because women appear to be more susceptible to peer pressure I believe that women may in fact consume more alcohol than men and as a result be more likely to indulge in dangerous behavior. References

Alcohol consumption of college students


Pedrelli P., Bentley K., Vitali M., Clain A., Nyer M., Fava M., Farabaugh A. (2013 January). Compulsive use of alcohol among college students, Psychiatry review, Volume 205, Issues 1-2, p. 95-102, Retrieved October 16th 2013 from 12004441 Maddock J., LaForge R., Rossi J., OHare T. (2001 May). The College alcohol problems scale, Addictive behaviors, Volume 26, Issue 3, p. 385-398, Retrieved October 16th 2013 from 167

Lorant V., Nicaise P., Soto V., DHoore W., (2013 June). Alcohol drinking among college students: college responsibility for personal troubles. Retrieved October 16th 2013 from