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Published: 3 month

College students drink more alcohol than adults, with one in two students having taken drugs

College students drink more, use more drugs but smoke less than the average for both high school students and 18-34 year olds, according to a recent representative survey conducted by researchers at Corvinus University of Budapest.

A felnőtteknél is több alkoholt isznak az egyetemisták, minden második hallgató drogozott már-

A research team led by Zsuzsanna Elekes, professor at Corvinus University, mapped the risk behaviour of young people in a national representative survey. The HUN-REN Social Epidemiology Research Group surveyed 1,385 university students in 2022, with a 50/50 split between girls and boys, and between residents of the capital and rural areas.

Results show that smoking is less prevalent among university students than in the general population, with 43.6 percent of respondents having consumed a tobacco product in the week before the survey and 17.9 percent smoking daily. The average proportion of Hungarians who smoke daily was 24.5 percent in 2019, according to the HCSO. It is interesting to note that traditional cigarettes are still the most popular among university students; e-cigarettes and heated tobacco products are less popular.

Twice as much a university student drinks on an average session as an average young person

As for alcohol, a third of students drink it on a weekly basis, with weekly drinking twice as prevalent among boys as girls, while their consumption is more than double the amount drunk by secondary school students. 94% of those surveyed had consumed alcohol in the previous year and 27% consumed large quantities of alcohol monthly. It was also found that when college students drink, they consume much more than adults or high school students: more than double the amount of alcohol in pure alcohol terms compared to high school students.

Beer and wine are the most common drinks among students, spirits do not dominate and, unlike high school students, they tend to drink in pubs and bars rather than at home. When asked if they had experienced any signs of a hangover, 41% reported a problem, compared with 10.3% in a previous national sample of adults. Students in Budapest and science universities drink more and more often than those in rural and social science institutions.

Almost one in two university students have tried some kind of drug, the most common being cannabis (36.3%), sleeping pills or tranquilisers taken without a prescription (14.3%) and Ectasy (8.2%). More than a quarter are repeat users, and boys and students in Budapest are more affected. Cannabis is more than 3.5 times more prevalent among students aged 18-34 and more than twice as prevalent among students aged 9-10. Other relatively common substances are amphetamines (6.6%), sleeping pills and sedatives taken on prescription (6.1%), alcohol taken for medication (5%), magic mushrooms (4.8%), cocaine (4.4%), painkillers used to improve mood (4.3%), synthetic cannabinoids (4.1%) and LSD (3.4%) - with heroin at the bottom of the list at 0.2%. Working while studying is a risk factor: a higher proportion of students who are currently working have tried a drug than those who are not.

College students spend 6.6 hours a day online

Another Corvinus researcher, Kitti Kutrovátz, was part of the research team that looked at how university students spend their free time. The results show that the most popular leisure activity among university students is meeting friends, followed by "just hanging out at home or elsewhere", then traditional TV watching; sports are a third of their favourite. Gender also influences the question, with girls more likely to spend their time with no purpose, and boys more likely to play sport. People in Budapest also spend more time on sport. Longer and more frequent online presence is more common among those in rural areas, those inactive in the labour market and those without a relationship.

"Partnership status and work are protective factors: the risk of problematic internet and social networking site use is lower among those with a stable relationship. Those who work while studying are more likely to participate in cultural events," said Kitti Kutrovátz, a researcher at Corvinus University.

In the online space, students mostly use social media, listen to music and watch videos and films. Among those surveyed, the average time spent in front of a screen is 6.6 hours a day. Boys are more likely to play games online, while girls are more likely to chat and use social networking sites. Around a quarter of university students have problems with internet use, but only 6% use social media in a worrying way.

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