Nearly One In Ten Students Get Blackout Drunk While Studying Abroad

By May Wilkerson 01/21/16

They're more prone to do drugs for the first time overseas, too.


Studying abroad can be a wonderful time to experience a new cultural landscape ... and get blackout drunk, apparently.

A new survey of American students who studied abroad in the past two years, found that one in nine, or 11%, said they had blacked out while drinking in their host country. Additionally, one in nine students had tried an illicit drug for the first time, while 29% had used illicit drugs while abroad.

The results are not entirely shocking, given the reputation of American young people to party excessively while visiting countries with a lower drinking age and a more casual attitude towards drugs. “I can't say I was terribly surprised," said Jim Hutton, the chief security officer at On Call International, a medical emergency and evacuations services company who commissioned the study.

Part of the reason for the rise in Americans’ overseas boozing is simply that more students are studying abroad. Since 2000, the number of students studying abroad has nearly doubled to almost 300,000, according to the Institute of International Education. But also, there is more social media to document the trend.

The survey also found that students’ drinking and drug use abroad can lead to other risky behavior: 32% reported casual hookups with strangers, and one out of five students said they had accepted a car ride from a local stranger who wasn't a taxi driver. Drinking to excess can also put young college students at higher risk of being targeted for theft.

Hutton recommends that schools get involved and prepare students for these potential risks before they send them overseas. "We think it's really important for the sponsoring institutions to make sure they're honoring their responsibility in the duty of care [for students]," he said. "There has to be a responsible adult involved in the process here. Once you make sure that that happens, the other components will fall into place."

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.