Substance Use Among NCAA Athletes

Understanding Alcohol Use Among Elite College Athletes


For over 30 years, the NCAA has collected data and conducted research on the substance use of college athletes. The most recent study done in 2013 gathered responses from over 20,000 NCAA student-athletes across all three divisions.

Drinking Among NCAA Athletes


According to their findings, among female student-athletes, 31.9% in Division I drank more than 4 drinks in one sitting, compared to 32.6% in Division II and 37.8% in Division III. Male student-athletes were more likely to drink with 39.6% of Division I and Division II athletes responding that they drank more than 5 drinks in one sitting. Over half (50.4%) of Division III male student-athletes responded that they typically drank more than 5 drinks in one sitting. 

Furthermore, male student-athletes were more likely to drink 10 or more drinks in one setting with 15.5% of Division 1 players indicating that they typically drink that amount, 16.8% of Division II, and 20.4% of Division III.

Consequences of Student-Athlete Drinking

Student-athletes reported a number of negative impacts from their drinking. Drinking affected many aspects of the student’s life including their athletic success. At least 16% of student-athletes who drank indicated that they had performed poorly in at least one game or practice as a result of their drinking.

Common consequences of student-athlete drinking include:

  • Hangovers
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Missed classes
  • Missed games or practices
  • Poor academic performance
  • Accident or injury

Getting Help

One of the most important things you can do if you are struggling with alcohol or drug use is to seek treatment. Getting help can prevent you from making poor choices and can help you stay in good academic standing.