Risks Associated with Alcohol and Marijuana Use Among College Student Athletes: The Case for Involving Athletic Personnel in Prevention and Intervention

Christina E. Parisi – University of Maryland
Brittany A. Bugbee – University of Maryland
Kathryn B. Vincent – University of Maryland
Andrea M. Soong – University of Maryland
Amelia M. Arria – University of Maryland


The purpose of this study was to describe alcohol and marijuana use patterns and related consequences among student athletes. A total of 12,510 students (n=1,233 athletes) completed four cross-sectional online annual surveys as part of a multi-site campus initiative. Chi-square tests of independence, t-tests, and regression models evaluated differences in alcohol and marijuana use between athletes and non-athletes. The prevalence of binge drinking and high intensity drinking was significantly higher among student athletes than non-athletes, even after controlling for demographic characteristics. Thirteen percent of student athletes experienced an alcohol-related injury during the past year; this was more common among binge drinkers than non-binge drinkers (20.5% and 2.6%, respectively). Among student athletes, past-month binge drinking and past-year marijuana use were significantly associated with lowered GPA (ps<.01). Skipping class was twice as prevalent among student athletes who used marijuana as compared with athletes who did not use marijuana, but no differences were found related to binge drinking. Components for a training for athletic personnel to reduce risks for alcohol-related injury and academic consequences that are associated with alcohol and marijuana use among student athletes are described. Involving athletic personnel might be an important strategy to identify and intervene with high-risk student athletes.