An Examination of Alcohol Consumption and Behaviors in Female Intercollegiate Athletes versus Nonathlete Counterparts

Kelsey Barnes


In general, the college student population is at-risk for excessive alcohol consumption 4 . Along with consuming large amounts of alcohol, college students have the highest rates of negative consequences related to alcohol, including approximately 599,000 unintentional injuries and 1,825 deaths annually 7 . A group that is especially susceptible to heavy alcohol consumption is intercollegiate athletes. Athletes consume more drinks per week, are more likely to engage in frequent heavy episodic drinking, and experience more negative consequences related to alcohol than nonathletes 4 . For example, intercollegiate athletes report consuming an average of 7–8 drinks per week, compared to their nonathlete counterparts who report consuming an average of about 4 drinks per week 1 . A factor that might be related to alcohol use among intercollegiate athletes is the type of sport that is played, meaning that it is possible that alcohol consumption may differ depending on the sport 4 . The purpose of this study is to look at 1) alcohol consumption in college athletes verse non-college athletes and 2) determine if the type of sport played impacts drinking patterns. This study obtained survey results from 13 small to medium sized colleges and universities from the Midwest and Northeast United States. Results were received from 635 female students. The average age was 20.38 years old (SD=3.33) and 88.3% reported being Caucasian/White. Of the participants, 209 were intercollegiate athletes and 417 were nonathletes. In contrast to the literature, the athletes did not differ from the non-athletes. However, the swimming and diving athletes drank more alcohol and more frequently than other sports. It’s possible that certain athletes may be more susceptible to excessive alcohol consumption because they have different motivations behind the drinking behaviors than nonathletes.


Athletes, Nonathletes, Alcohol

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