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Alcohol Data

Campus Alcohol Data

UHS collects data on student health and wellbeing through a variety of surveys and studies. The Alcohol, Tobacco, and Other Drug Prevention team uses these data to guide our campus prevention efforts in these areas and help track trends and progress to ensure programs and resources are available to meet student needs.  

What our data shows

Rates of alcohol use and high-risk drinking


UW-Madison students drink at rates that are significantly higher than the national average 

  • 47% of UW-Madison undergraduates drink at high-risk levels (NCHA) 
  • Almost 70% of undergraduate students report drinking in the past 2 weeks (AlcoholEdu, NCHA) 

There are disparities in alcohol use among the student population 

  • White students participate in high-risk drinking at a rate 50% higher than students of color (Healthy Minds) 
  • White cisgender students drink at higher rates than students of color and gender diverse students (Healthy Minds) 

However, most students on campus drink at lower risk  

  • More than half of first-year students drink in low quantities or not at all  
  • 98% of first-year students said they would respect and honor a student’s decision to be a non-drinker 


High-risk drinking is defined as 4 or more drinks (female) or 5 or more drinks (male) in one day. 

Safety and belonging


Alcohol causes individual and community harm 

  • 77% of sexual assaults that involve force or incapacitation at UW-Madison also involve the use of alcohol 
  • 10% of undergraduates have physically injured themselves while drinking (NHCA)  

Students of color experience more negative impacts of alcohol culture, though they drink at lower rates than white students 

  • 48% of students of color said they experienced microaggressions from intoxicated students (Color of Drinking) 
  • Students of color report lower feelings of belonging and safety on campus (Color of Drinking) 

About our data


For the past 10 years, UW-Madison has administered AlcoholEdu, an online prevention education program required for all incoming first-year and transfer students. The program assesses alcohol knowledge and skill level as well as attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors around alcohol use. 


Healthy Minds Survey (HMS)

The Healthy Minds Survey provides key statistics to understand the intersection of mental health and student success, with a goal of improving the climate around mental health by better understanding students’ needs and the issues that impact them. The survey was last conducted in 2022. 

Color of Drinking Study 

The Color of Drinking Studyexamines the impacts of UW–Madison’s alcohol culture on undergraduate students, especially students of color. The survey was last conducted in 2017 and will be re-administered in fall 2023. 


Biennial Review of UW-Madison’s Drug and Alcohol Misuse Prevention Program (NCHA) 

A review by UW-Madison on its alcohol and other drug prevention program to determine effectiveness and implement changes. This report incorporates data from the National College Health Association (NCHA) Survey, a nationally recognized research survey that provides precise data about students’ health habits, behaviors, and perceptions.