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More NDSU students are drinking and smoking marijuana, but drinking and driving is down

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Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - A survey at NDSU says more students are drinking and smoking pot than previous years, but some of the risky behaviors associated with those habits are declining.

The Core survey has been measuring prevalence, patterns and related consequences of alcohol and drug use since 2001. During that time it's picked up both positive and negative trends.

It's no secret colleges are known for drinking and marijuana use.

Thomas Ugelstad/NDSU Junior, "Definitely see a lot of people going out on the weekends Definitely one of the main pastimes of a lot of people I know."

And a bi-annual survey reveals in 2014 74 percent of NDSU students reported drinking in the past month. That's slightly up from the 71 percent in 2012. The average student also reported drinking about two-thirds of a glass more each week than in the 2012 survey.

Jessica Bunkers/NDSU Freshman, "There's a big chunk of people that do go out and party on the weekends, but then there's also the same amount that hang low and are just relaxed about it."

Some of the ones who prefer to stay in were surprised to find marijuana use is as high as it's been since 2001. A quarter of students reported using the drug in the past year compared to a fifth of those surveyed two years prior.

Paige Palmer/NDSU Freshman, "Our college isn't really known as the party college."

Despite a steady increase in drinking and marijuana use, the university did find a sharp decline in risky behaviors associated with alcohol and other drugs.

Erika Beseler-Thompson/Student Success Programs, "A lot of those messages are starting to pay off. And we're seeing that our students are not experiencing the consequences in the way that they used to."

The Student Success Program Associate Director says she sees the culture of acceptable behavior shifting.

Driving under the influence is at an all-time low. 18 percent of students reported drinking and driving in 2014 versus a startling 49 percent in 2001.

32 percent reported doing something under the influence the later regretted down almost 12 percent from 2001.

Beseler Thompson is celebrating fewer negative consequences, but also recognizes substance abuse is a community-wide concern.

Beseler-Thompson: "We can work really hard on our college students and we can focus on prevention efforts here. But we also need the support of our broader community in order to create an environment that supports those decisions."

About three percent more students reported knowing about the university's prevention programs.

The data will be used to prioritize the next steps in those programs.

Catherine Ross

Catherine joined the WDAY 6 News team as a reporter and photographer in April of 2014 and is honored to bring you stories from around the Red River Valley. She grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis and got her first taste of the news industry during a high school mentorship at Fox 9 in the Twin Cities. Catherine graduated from Emerson College in Boston where she participated in the student-run TV station WEBN and spent a semester in Washington, DC working at Voice of America. Those opportunities gave her a front-row seat to the 2012 Presidential election cycle, reporting at the Iowa Caucuses, Republican National Convention and President Obama’s second inauguration. Now happy to be back closer to family, Catherine enjoys exploring the nature and culture of the upper Midwest. She’s an avid runner, novice foodie and lifelong Twins fan. If you have any story ideas or just want to say hello, Catherine would love to hear from you!

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