Secondary Effects of Alcohol Abuse

Students who are not heavy drinkers or who abstain from drinking altogether still suffer negative consequences from other students' alcohol abuse, called secondary effects. Additionally, the campus as a whole suffers as the academic mission of a college or university is compromised by students who abuse alcohol. Finally, the secondary effects of high-risk drinking can reach as far as neighboring communities.

Secondary Effects on Campus

The majority of college and university students are not heavy drinkers, with 22.8 percent abstaining altogether from all alcohol use. However, even students who don't abuse alcohol can be affected by others' heavy drinking. In fact, according to the Harvard School of Public Health's College Alcohol Study (CAS), over three-quarters of students who live in campus housing report experiencing one or more secondary effects of alcohol:

  • 60 percent had interrupted study or sleep
  • 48 percent took care of a drunk fellow student
  • 29 percent were insulted or humiliated
  • 20 percent (females) experienced an unwanted sexual advance
  • 19 percent had a serious argument or quarrel
  • 15 percent had property damaged
  • 9 percent had been pushed, hit, or assaulted
  • 1 percent (females) were the sexually assaulted or acquaintance rape

Moreover, entire campuses suffer the secondary effects of vandalism, riots, hazing, and other forms of violence committed by intoxicated students.

Secondary Effects in the Community

College drinking can negatively affect the quality of life of individuals and families who live in local communities. People who live within one mile of a campus are more likely to experience excessive noise, public drunkenness, litter, vandalism, and public urination and vomiting on their property than those who live farther away.

Effective Prevention

An environmental management approach to prevention influences behavior change on multiple levels and can have a large-scale effect on reducing the secondary effects of alcohol abuse on campus and in the community.

Getting community leaders on board with the planning and implementation of these alcohol prevention efforts can help ensure that local citizens' viewpoints are considered and their problems addressed.

Questions? Need help?

If you or a loved one needs help for substance abuse or addiction, fill out the form below and a counselor will respond shortly.

Send Help Request 100% Free and Confidential

Drug Rehab Centers by State

Call our Drug Rehab Help Line

Drug and Alcohol Help-Line


100% Free and Confidential

Organizations We Support