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The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention

College Athletes and

Alcohol and Other Drug Use
Few would argue that athletic success depends on drinking in the previous two weeks, compared to college players, promotions by professional athletes,
both physical and mental health. Given that, it would with 48 percent of female athletes. 3
and the convenience of using spit tobacco during
be reasonable to expect that college athletes avoid Athletes tend to drink in seasonal cycles. A games.5
using alcohol and other drugs to preserve their overall study at a large private university in 1990 found A national study found spit tobacco to be widely
health and enhance their athletic performance. In an approximate 50 percent increase in drinking used among male college athletes, especially baseball
fact, college athletes use alcohol, spit tobacco, and when athletes were off-season. In season, 42 players. Fully 42 percent of baseball players and 30
steroids at higher rates than their non-athlete peers.1 percent of men and 26 percent of women drank
Mal ☞
Cocaine attracted publicity for its role in the deaths alcohol at least once a week, but during e At
of star athletes in the 1980s and has since waned as the remainder of the year weekly alcohol Alcoh es a
o nd S
a prevalent drug among college athletes. Even so, consumption jumped to 60 percent for colleg l and oth exu
e camp e r dru al A
cocaine still poses risks for college athletes, as do other men and 41 percent for women. 4 o f s ome u s e g u s e ssau
ty intim s. In pe ofa re a stu lt often
id d
drugs such as diet aids, ephedrine, marijuana, and that t ation an sexual ag y of wom linked to
h d g e v
psychedelics. attac 1e4 ir male illegal re ression w n who ha iolence o
k. assai strain hile i d bee n
lants t n
Spit Tobacco Sever
a l had b to rape, college, f n victims
than s een d 68 ro
Although spit tobacco is often other tudies ha rinkin percent m
men ve fo g r
on ca un a t the ti eported
Alcohol marketed as “smokeless to- • In a mpus d male at me o
f the
weste study of v to co hlete
A national study of varsity athletes found that almost bacco,” implying that it poses m m i s t o b
r n i c t s e
77 percent of athletes had used alcohol in the previous fewer health risks than ciga- amon univers tims of s exua m
l assa ore likel
g i e
Thou the assa ty, male a xual aggr ults. 15 y
12 months, a decrease from 81 percent in 2001.2 rettes, chewing tobacco and gh m ilants thlete essio
total e n on descr s wer n at a
m e
A national study of college student drinking found snuff are highly addictive the a ale popu sports tea ibed by th greatly o large mid
ttack lation ms w e wo verre -
that athletes have significantly higher rates of heavy sexua er e m p
and can lead to oral l assa s in sexua on campu re less tha en surve resented
ults. 14 l assa s, n y e
drinking (defined as five or more drinks in a row for cancer, mouth lesions,
• At ults a they mad 2 percen d.
men, four or more for women) than non-athletes. 5 a n d 1 e u p t of t
and gum disease. men nother un 4 per h
o i cent 23 percen e
in att
Among men not competing in intercollegiate athlet- Male athletes are and b n varsity, versity, an e mpte
t of
a r
ics, 49 percent reported heavy drinking in the two particularly at risk, beha sketball, evenue-p anonymo d
vior. 16 self-r roduc us su
eport i rv
weeks prior to the survey, compared with 57 percent chiefly because of ed hi ng teams, ey found
of the male athletes. For women students, the dif- • Ga gher such that
n rates
intensive mar- who g rapes o of se as footbal
p n xually l
ference in drinking patterns was just as disparate: keting targeted supp articipate campus abus
40 percent of non-athlete women reported heavy ortive i n inte a r e mo i v e
to adolescent gang b
rapes ehaviors nsive ma st often p
boys, distri- perpe foun and a le pe erpet
t e r
frater rators we d that in 2 ttitudes. O r groups t ated by m
For additional information bution of nities 17 re me 2 o f th n e rev h at fos en
. mber
free spit s of i e 24 doc iew of 24 ter rape-
The Higher Education Center for Invo olleg umented alleged
tobacco men lvement iate a c
Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse fr in thleti ases, the
and Violence Prevention ior, p om doub all-male c tea
ms o
a t
camp rticularly s about th peer grou r
Education Development Center, Inc. to inc
us. 18 when e ina
ps m
ay in
At so their su
55 Chapel Street l m
so th ude male e univer team or fr riateness late some
Newton, Massachusetts 02458-1060 ey ca v a rsit s i t ies, a t ern o f the
n ser
www.higheredcenter.org ve as y athletes campus p ity holds p ir behav-
posit r
(800) 676-1730; TDD Relay-friendly, Dial 711 ive ro as rape p rograms h estige on
le mo reven ave b
dels f tio e
Fax: (617) 928-1537 or th n educat gun
eir pe ors
HigherEdCtr@edc.org ers. 18

Funded by the U.S. Department of Education

August 2008
The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention

percent of football players had used spit tobacco in the ephedrine is considered a “natural” supplement, year in college, and 6 percent after their freshman year in
previous 12 months.2 These figures are a drop from yet it has been blamed for health conditions such as college. By ethnic group, the highest rate of marijuana use
nearly 60 percent of baseball players and 40 percent of high blood pressure and abnormal heartbeat.11 In was found among Caucasians.
football players in the early 1990s, yet they still dwarf April 2004 the Food and Drug Administration banned Among athletes, 63 percent of marijuana users said they
the national use rate of 17 percent for college men.1, 6 the sale of supplements containing ephedrine, due to use the drug to serve recreational or social purposes and
In most women’s sports, spit tobacco use is rare, its “unreasonable risk of illness or injury.”12 35 percent said that they use it because it makes them feel
but in the same national study, nearly 20 percent of In a national study, nearly 3 percent of student good. Among those not using marijuana, 15 percent said
women ice hockey players reported using.2 athletes were found to use ephedrine. Women’s ice they refrained because they had no desire for the drug’s
A survey of varsity baseball players at 52 California hockey has the highest rate of ephedrine use, close to effects, 37 percent refrained because they were concerned
colleges found clear racial and ethnic differences in 12 percent. Female gymnasts quickly increased their about their health, and 11 percent refrained because it was
spit tobacco use: 42 percent of white athletes, 37 per- use of ephedrine, from 1 percent in 1997 to 8 percent against their religious or moral beliefs.
cent of Asians, 36 percent of Hispanics, 35 percent of in 2001. That rate dropped back to 1 percent in
Native American and 11 percent of African Americans 2005. Water polo has the most male ephedrine users,
use spit tobacco.7 Almost 98 percent of the athletes with a rate of almost 8 percent.2 Table 1: Annual Marijuana Usage
who use spit tobacco started by the age of 20.5 Among College Athletes 1985–20013
Year Annual Usage
1985 35%
Anabolic Steroids and
1989 28%
Diet Pills, Laxatives, and Amphetamines
1993 21%
Diuretics An NCAA national study in 2005 found that ana-
1997 28%
Eating disorders and abuse of diet aids can increase bolic steroids are not widely used by intercollegiate
2001 27%
the risk of electrolyte imbalance, muscle loss, bone athletes. The user rate was 1 percent, a significant
2005 20%
loss, and injury. Abuse of appetite suppressants (most drop from 5 percent in 1989.2 Still, this rate is more
of which include a type of addictive stimulant), laxa- than triple the national rate by non-athlete stu-
tives, and diuretics appears to be higher in certain dents.13 Two percent of male football players used
sports such as gymnastics, dance, figure skating, and anabolic steroids, a drop from nearly 10 percent
in 1989.2 Other Drugs
cross-country running.8
Athletes maintained the same usage rate of This same 2005 NCAA study found that roughly 2 percent
A study of female collegiate gymnasts found that
amphetamines, hovering at 3 percent, between of athletes used cocaine during the previous 12 months, a
62 percent had used at least one extreme weight-
1989 and 2001. The rate increased to 4 percent in sharp decline from the 5 percent of athletes who used co-
loss method at least twice a week for three or more
2005. The sport with the most amphetamine use caine in 1989. Over 2 percent of Division I athletes reported
months, including 24 percent who had used diet
by men is rifle shooting, with 8 percent of par- using psychedelic drugs during the previous year.2
pills, 12 percent who had used diuretics, 7 percent
who had used laxatives, and 26 percent who had ticipants using. Among female athletes, the most
induced vomiting.9 These rates are much higher prevalent use was by softball players, at about 5
than for female non-athletes. At a private college in percent.2
the Northeast, a survey of female students found that Strategies for Institutions of Higher
1 percent regularly used diet pills, less than 1 percent Education
repeatedly used diuretics, a little over 1 percent Marijuana
consistently took laxatives, and 3 percent regularly Past NCAA surveys revealed a sharp decrease in mari- Promoting Alcohol- and Drug-Free Social,
induced vomiting.10 juana use between the late 1980s and early 1990s Recreational, and Extracurricular Op-
Eating disorders and abuse of diet aids are much (see table 1). In a reversal of that trend, more than tions and Public Service
more common among women athletes than men. 28 percent of the athletes surveyed in 1997 reported • Develop team-building exercises or programs for
Nearly 11 percent of female athletes use nonprescrip- using marijuana at least once during the previous athletes that incorporate alcohol-free recreational
tion diet drugs, such as Dexatrim and Acutrim, about year. This figure dropped to 20 percent in 2005. activities.
four times the rate of use among male athletes.6 The majority of the athletes surveyed in 2005 had • Coordinate community service and volunteer
The use of one herbal diet and energy supplement, started using marijuana prior to coming to college. opportunities for student athletes.
ephedrine, has remained stable among college athletes Specifically, 66 percent of users started in high • Organize community service Spring Break
from 1997 to 2005.2 Also known as ma huang, school, 12 percent started during their freshman activities for student athletes.
The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention

Creating a Social, Academic, and • Communicate and enforce substance-free 14. Frintner MP, Rubinson L. Acquaintance Rape: The
Residential Environment That Pro- training requirements for student athletes. Influence of Alcohol, Fraternity Membership, and
• Expand training rules to year-round. Sports Team Membership. Journal of Sex Education
motes Healthy Social Norms
and Therapy 1993; 19(4): 272-284.
• Develop social norms marketing campaigns to
15. Bausell RB, Bausell CR, Siegel DG. The Links Among
address exaggerated misperceptions of alcohol
Alcohol, Drugs and Crime on American College
and other drug abuse among student athletes. Campuses: A National Followup Study. Towson, MD:
• Promote a healthy environment through the Towson State University, 1991.
1. Pickle D. Study Shows Positive Trends Regarding
recruitment and admissions procedures for Tobacco, Steroid Use. The NCAA News August 13, 16. Koss MP, Gaines JA. The Prediction of Sexual
student athletes. Oversee prospective student 2001. http://www.ncaa.org/news/2001/20010813/ Aggression by Alcohol Use, Athletic Participation,
athlete placement for weekend visits with active/3817n01.html. and Fraternity Affiliation. Journal of Interpersonal
responsible athletes. Explicitly state to interested 2. NCAA Research Staff. NCAA Study of Substance Use Violence 1993; 8(1): 94-108.
applicants that alcohol and other drug use is not of College Student-Athletes. The National Collegiate 17. O’Sullivan CS. Acquaintance Gang Rape on Campus.
tolerated. Athletic Association, 2006. http://www.ncaa.org/ In: Parrot A, Bechhofer L (eds.). Acquaintance Rape:
library/research/substance_use_habits/ The Hidden Crime. New York: Wiley, 1991: chap. 10.
• Make available substance-free residence options
2006/2006_substance_use_report.pdf. 18. Parrot A, Cummings N, Marchell TC, Hofher J. A Rape
and encourage student athletes to use them.
3. Nelson TF, Wechsler H. Alcohol and College Athletes. Medi- Awareness and Prevention Model for Male Athletes.
• Educate faculty and staff about behavioral cine & Science in Sports & Exercise 2001; 33(1): 43-47. Journal of American College Health 1994; 42(4):
ndicators, student norms, and cultural attitudes 4. Selby R, Weinstein HM, Bird TS. The Health of Universi- 179-184.
related to high-risk or illegal alcohol use. ty Athletes: Attitudes, Behaviors, and Stressors. Journal
• Encourage faculty and athletics personnel to of American College Health 1990; 39(1): 11-18.
engage in a higher level of contact with students. 5. Walsh MM, Hilton JF, Ernster VL, Masouredis CM,
Grady DG. Prevalence, Patterns, and Correlates of Spit
Limiting Availability and Access Tobacco Use in a College Athlete Population. Addictive
Behaviors 1994; 19(4): 411-427.
• Prohibit alcohol use in sports stadiums and/or
6. Anderson WA, Albrecht RR, McKeag DB, Hough DO,
promote a limit to the hours of alcohol sales at
McGrew CA. A National Survey of Alcohol and Drug
sporting events.
Use by College Athletes. The Physician and Sports-
• If alcohol is served at sporting events, reduce medicine 1991; 19(2): 91-104.
container size of alcoholic beverages. 7. Gansky SA, Ellison, JA, Rudy D, Bergert N, Letendre
• If alcohol is served at sporting events, encourage MA, Nelson L, Kavanagh C, Walsh MM. Cluster-Ran-
limitations regarding quantity per sale. domized Controlled Trial of an Athletic Trainer-Directed
• Prohibit alcohol use at tailgating events. Spit (Smokeless) Tobacco Intervention for Collegiate This publication was funded by the
• Require any and all on-campus alcohol servers Baseball Athletes: Results After One Year. Journal of Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools at
to be registered and trained. Athletic Training 2005; 40(2): 76-87. the U.S. Department of Education under
8. Johnson MD. Disordered Eating in Active and Athletic contract number ED-04-CO-0137 with Education
Women. Clinics in Sports Medicine 1994; 13(2): 355-369. Development Center, Inc. The contracting officer’s
Limiting Marketing and representative was Richard Lucey, Jr. The content of
9. Rosen LW, Hough DO. Pathogenic Weight-Control
Promotion of Alcohol Behaviors of Female College Gymnasts. The Physician this publication does not necessarily reflect the views
• Restrict alcohol advertising in sports stadiums and Sportsmedicine 1988; 16: 141-146. or policies of the U.S. Department of Education,
and on athletics publications. 10. Heatherton TF, Nichols P, Mahamedi F, Keel P. Body nor does the mention of trade names, commercial
• Reduce marketing and promotion targeted at Weight, Dieting, and Eating Disorder Symptoms products, or organizations imply endorsement by
Among College Students, 1982 to 1992. American the U.S. government. This publication also contains
athletes. Work with local bar owners to limit
Journal of Psychiatry 1995; 152(11): 1623-1629.
hyperlinks and URLs for information created and
such marketing. maintained by private organizations. This informa-
11. Phipps JL. College Jocks Speeding Up. HealthScout-
tion is provided for the reader’s convenience. The
News Reporter August 24, 2001.
Enforcing Campus Policy and State U.S. Department of Education is not responsible for
12. U.S. Food and Drug Administration. Sales of Supple-
and Local Laws controlling or guaranteeing the accuracy, relevance,
ments Containing Ephedrine Alkaloids (Ephedra)
• Communicate campus alcohol and other drug timeliness, or completeness of this outside informa-
Prohibited, 2004. http://www.fda.gov/oc/initiatives/
tion. Further, the inclusion of information or a hy-
policies clearly and frequently to athletes, ephedra/february2004. perlink or URL does not reflect the importance of the
including consequences for violations. 13. Cal Poly Pomona Student Health Services. National and organization, nor is it intended to endorse any views
• Create and enforce policies that limit team Cal Poly Pomona Core Alcohol and Other Drug Survey. expressed, or products or services offered. Published
participation for alcohol and other drug use. Cal Poly Pomona, 2001. 1997; revised 2002; latest update August 2008.

The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Prevention

Office of Safe and Drug-Free Schools sexual assault prevention, and other student health National Collegiate Athletic
(OSDFS) issues. The group provides training, technical as- Association
U.S. Department of Education sistance, educational materials, and national and http://www.ncaa.org; 317-917-6222
http://www.ed.gov/osdfs; 202-245-7896 regional forums to support campus peer educators.
BACCHUS and GAMMA has more than 700 campus The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA)
OSDFS supports efforts to create safe schools, chapters and 25,000 active members around the sponsors CHAMPS/Life Skills, a comprehensive
respond to crises, prevent alcohol and other drug country. The organization receives partial funding educational program for college athletes that ad-
abuse, ensure the health and well-being of stu- from the alcohol industry. dresses a number of issues, including alcohol and
dents, and teach students good character and citi- BACCHUS and GAMMA developed the Certified other substance use. To participate in the CHAMPS/
zenship. The agency provides financial assistance Peer Educator Training Program, a comprehensive Life Skills Program, colleges must apply to the NCAA.
for drug abuse and violence prevention programs 13-hour training for peer educators, residence Once enrolled in the program, colleges receive work-
and activities that promote the health and well- hall staff, and Greek society leaders to help them shop materials, training, and technical assistance
being of students in elementary and secondary develop the skills necessary to lead workshops on from the NCAA.
schools and institutions of higher education. substance abuse prevention and other topics The organization also sponsors Athletic Prevention
related to student health. The training also Programming and Leadership Education (APPLE)
The U.S. Department of Education’s includes an instructional video, a facilitator’s conferences for coaches, trainers, students, and
Higher Education Center for Alcohol health educators, working in conjunction with the
manual, and student workbooks.
and Other Drug Abuse and Violence University of Virginia’s Institute for Substance Abuse
In collaboration with the National Collegiate
Prevention Studies.
Athletic Association, BACCHUS and GAMMA has
http://www.higheredcenter.org; 1-800-676-1730; “Drugs and the Collegiate Athletes” is a four-part
developed the Student Athletes as Peer Educators
TDD Relay-friendly, Dial 711 video series that addresses the drugs more often used
Training Program, a specialized version of the
by student athletes, plus environmental factors that
The Higher Education Center offers an integrated Certified Peer Educator Program. The program for
increase risk of alcohol and other drug use among
array of services to help campuses and communities athletes also includes a video, facilitator’s manual,
student athletes. The series comes with a comprehen-
come together to identify problems; assess needs; and and student work sheets. In addition, the orga- sive leader’s guide.
plan, implement, and evaluate alcohol and other drug nization distributes many other resource books, Other educational materials for substance abuse
abuse and violence prevention programs. Services pamphlets, videos, and posters.
prevention among college athletes are also available
include training; technical assistance; publications; from the NCAA. The organization awards grants to
support for the Network Addressing Collegiate Alcohol Mentors in Violence Prevention support substance abuse prevention programs target-
and Other Drug Issues; and evaluation activities. The (MVP) Program ing college athletes and related research, which are
Higher Education Center’s publications are free and http://www.sportinsociety.org/mvp.php; partially funded by Anheuser-Busch.
can be downloaded from its Web site. 617- 373-4025
The Network Addressing Collegiate
This program uses multiracial teams of former Alcohol and Other Drug Issues
collegiate and professional male athletes to talk with http://www.thenetwork.ws; see Web site for telephone
Other Organizations boys and young men about attitudes toward women, contacts by region
violence, and masculinity. Through the program,
BACCHUS and GAMMA Peer researchers seek to reduce men’s violence against The Network Addressing Collegiate Alcohol and Other
Education Network women by inspiring athletes to challenge and recon- Drug Issues (Network) is a national consortium of
http://www.bacchusgamma.org; 303-871-0901 struct predominant male norms that equate strength colleges and universities formed to promote healthy
in men with dominance over women. An MVP campus environments by addressing issues related
BACCHUS (Boosting Alcohol Consciousness key premise is that male student athletes can help to alcohol and other drugs. Developed in 1987 by the
Concerning the Health of University Students) to delegitimize “rape-supportive” and “battering- U.S. Department of Education, the Network comprises
and GAMMA (Greeks Advocating Mature Manage- supportive” attitudes by publicly rejecting them. member institutions that voluntarily agree to work
ment of Alcohol) is an international association The project specifically encourages participants to toward a set of standards aimed at reducing alcohol
of college- and university-based peer education use their status among peers on campus to promote and other drug problems at colleges and universities.
programs focusing on alcohol abuse prevention, healthier attitudes and behavior toward women. It has more than 1,600 members nationwide.