Female College Athletes Relationship to Alcohol and Other Drugs


  • College athletes have higher rates of binge drinking than other students on campus. Like their male peers, female athletes drink more than female students who are not on intercollegiate teams.
  • 30 percent of non-athlete women reported binge drinking in the previous two weeks compared with 50% of female athletes.
  • One national study of varsity athletes found 87 percent of women had used alcohol in the previous 12 months
  • 49 percent of female team captains drink in binges, compared with 47 percent of their teammates and 31 percent of female students who are not on athletics teams.
  • Athletes tend to drink in seasonal cycles: In season 26 percent of women drank alcohol at least once a week. But during the remainder of the year, the percent drinking at least once a week jumped to 41 percent for women.
  • 65 percent of female team members have experienced hangovers.
  • 57 percent of female teams members have vomited or were nauseous after drinking or using drugs
  • Academic performance of 25 percent of women on sports teams was impaired by drinking or drugs use.
  • 35 percent of female team members got into fights or arguments after drinking or using drugs.
  • 14 percent of female athletes got into trouble with police while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.

Other Drugs

  • In most women's sports, spit tobacco use is rare, but nearly 10 percent of varsity softball players reported using it.
  • Approximately 4 percent of female varsity athletes reported using cocaine and about 28 percent reported using marijuana in the previous year. (1997).
  • About 11 percent of women athletes use nonprescription diet drugs, such as Dexatrim and Acutrim, which is about four times the proportion of male athletes who use them.
  • Eating disorders and abuse of diet aids are much more common among women athletes than among men and can increase risk of injury, electrolyte imbalance, muscle loss, and bone loss. Abuse of appetite suppressants (most of which include a type of addictive stimulant), laxatives, and diuretics appears to be higher in certain sports, such as gymnastics, dance, figure skating, and cross-country running.
  • A study of female collegiate gymnasts found that 62 percent used at least one extreme weight-loss method at least twice a week for three or more months, including 24 percent who used diet pills, 12 percent who used diuretics, 7 percent who used laxatives, and 26 percent who induced vomiting.


  • Info Fact Resources (The Higher Education Center for Alcohol & Other Drug Prevention) 1997
  • Journal of American College Health (May 1998)