High - risk drinking refers to individuals who drink five or more drinks in the course of a short period of time (e.g., over the course of two hours). Heavy episodic drinking is quite common in both high schools and colleges. Almost 30% of high school students have engaged in binging. Many colleges report rates as high as 60%. There are times when individuals will plan to heavy episodic drink (e.g., Let’s go out and get hammered!). However, there are numerous occasions where individuals will only plan on having a drink or two, but get carried away by drinking games, parties that get out of hand or someone buys a round of drinks, etc. Heavy episodic drinking has serious risks.


these quotes from a sample of college students:

“I was having a great night. I drank at least 15 beers. Then I blacked out. This is not unusual for me. Another time, I became violent, smashed bottles and got in tons of trouble.”

“A girl I know got so drunk that a friend and I had to carry her for several blocks, trying to keep her from burning us with a cigarette. Since then, she has gotten as drunk every weekend.”

“In a crowded party, I accidentally nudged someone. I apologized but the guy hit me anyway, making my mouth bleed.”

These accounts sound shocking, but chances are they have happened to your student or someone they know. These experiences alone should convince you of the potential risks of heavy episodic drinking. Heavy episodic drinkers are more likely to have been insulted by others, been in a serious argument or quarrel, had one’s property damaged, engaged in unprotected sexual intercourse where they are more susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV, been injured or had life threatening experiences, driven while intoxicated or rode in a car with an intoxicated driver. We also know that perpetrators of violence target individuals that are incapacitated by alcohol. No one deserves to be physically or sexually assaulted no matter how much they drink.

You need to emphasize to your student how powerful a drug alcohol can be and how quickly heavy episodic drinking can lead to dangerous results. By discussing the reasons why students drink, why students choose not to drink, and the basis of good relationships, and by providing them with skills on how to resist pressures from others, you will be helping your student develop the foundations that are necessary to reduce the probability of heavy episodic drinking.


Heavy episodic drinkers tend to have generally positive expectations about the types of activities where heavy episodic drinking is more likely to take place (e.g., bars, fraternity/ sorority parties). Some of the more commonly held beliefs include: I will be able to meet new people, I might meet potential sexual partners, and I will get to hang out with my friends.

Heavy episodic drinkers tend to agree with many of the reasons why students drink indicated earlier (e.g., drinking adds to a celebration, improves mood).

Heavy episodic drinkers tend to disagree with many of the reasons why some students do not drink indicated earlier (e.g., drinking makes you sick).

Heavy episodic drinkers tend to believe that there is nothing else to do, but go get drunk on weekends and associate with others who hold the same belief

Students on campus during FASET

Heavy episodic drinkers tend to associate with others who tend to heavy episodic drink (e.g., Everyone at my age is doing it, My friends will think I am strange if I do not drink, It can’t be that bad if everyone is doing it).