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NCAA Student-Athlete Substance Use Study

The 2017 NCAA Student-Athlete Substance Use Survey, developed by the NCAA’s research staff, provides the latest insights into the use of drugs, alcohol and tobacco by student-athletes. The study, released in June 2018, shows college athletes continue to make healthier decisions in many areas than their peers in the general student body.

The Student-Athlete Substance Use Survey has been conducted every four years since 1985 to assess the health and well-being trends among student-athletes. The report helps inform NCAA policy-makers with both current and historical information concerning levels of student-athlete drug and alcohol use. The study also analyzes why student-athletes do or do not use specific substances, when they started to use drugs, and their attitudes regarding drug use and drug testing.

The latest survey, based on the responses of approximately 23,000 student-athletes in all three divisions, indicates college athletes are using marijuana and amphetamines at a lower rate than the nonathlete college population. The percentage of student-athletes who reported drinking alcohol in the last year also showed a slight decrease from the previous survey in 2013, continuing a trend of a reduction in binge drinking since 2009. The most recent study also shows a significant decrease in the use of narcotic pain medication use with a prescription.

For more information on the Student-Athlete Substance Use Survey, view the full survey results or read the executive summary to see the most significant findings researchers identified. For questions please contact For questions related to Institutional Review Board issues or survey administration issues, contact Nick Sproull at