A report from SAMSHA by Rachel Lipari investigates initiation of substance use by college students in the US and how levels of initiation vary by month. Respondents were asked about the first time they drank alcohol, regardless of whether they were aged 21 or older and legally allowed to drink. Alcohol use is defined as having more than a sip or two from a can or bottle of beer, a glass of wine or a wine cooler, a shot of liquor, or a mixed drink with liquor in it.
Combined 2002 to 2013 data indicated that an annual average of 657,000 full-time college students aged 18 to 22 used alcohol for the first time within the past 12 months. This averages to about 1,800 new users per day. Of the 657,000 college students who used alcohol for the first time in the past year, about 450,000 were under the legal drinking age when they initiated (e.g., aged 18 to 20); this averages to about 1,200 new users per day aged 18 to 20 and about 570 new users per day who are aged 21 to 22. On an average day in June, July, September, and December between 2002 and 2013, 2,100 to 2,500 full-time college students aged 18 to 22 used alcohol for the first time; in other months, the daily average ranged from about 1,100 to 2,000 new users per day.