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Binge-Drinking Places Women at Risk on College Campuses
8 years ago
The frequency of binge drinking is way up on college campuses across America. Binge drinking is defined as having four to five drinks in a row for the sole purpose of getting drunk and studies show that women are keeping up with men like never before. “Binge drinking by females has increased over the years, even at schools that are all female, which have traditionally had fewer alcohol-related problems than coed schools,” said Aaron White, Ph.D., a research professor in the department of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center in Durham, N.C. Roughly 40 percent of college women who were surveyed binge drank at least once a month compared with roughly 50 percent of men, according to the Harvard School of Public Health’s College Alcohol Study which was set up to examine drinking behavior among men and women in college. The numbers were even higher among male and female students who lived in a fraternity or sorority house. Binge drinking poses unique health risks to women. Women who become intoxicated to the point that they are unable to exercise good judgment increase their chances of unplanned and unprotected sexual activity, sexually transmitted diseases, date rape and accidents. “Females are more likely to suffer alcohol-induced memory blackouts,” White said, “in which the drinker is unable to remember portions of events, or even entire events that happened while drinking.” As a result, it is more than likely that many sexual assaults on college campus go unreported because the female victim cannot recall what transpired. In a recent report, “Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities,” conducted by The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse (CASA), at Columbia University in New York, researchers revealed that more than 20 percent of full-time college students meet the medical criteria for substance abuse and dependence. But the problem does not seem to be a priority for the faculty and administration at many schools. “School administrators have not done enough to curtail drug and alcohol abuse on campus,” said Joseph A. Califano, Jr., CASA’s chairman and president and former U.S. Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare in a recent interview with USA Today. “It’s not on the radar screen of college presidents. This is not a priority. We believe they have an obligation to protect the health and safety of their students.” Some schools are making efforts to curb the problem on their campuses. Certain schools require freshman to take online courses that ask interactive questions and then explain the consequences of individual drinking habits. AlcoholEdu, which was developed by Dr. White at Duke has spread to other campuses around the country. “The purpose of the course is to provide students with accurate, science-based information about the potential risks involved in drinking. The goal here isn't to convince students not to drink, the goal is to help them make wise choices and keep themselves, and those around them, safe.” Hopefully, as more schools adopt programs like AlcoholEdu, the rate of binge-drinking will start to decrease. ### Sources Nelson TF, Naimi TS, Brewer RD, Wechsler H. The state sets the rate: The relationship of college binge drinking to state binge drinking rates and selected state alcohol control policies. American Journal of Public Health. 2005, 95(3):441-446. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, College Students and Drinking, Alcohol Alert No. 29, Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 1995. Wechsler, Henry, Dowdall, George, Maenner, Gretchen, Gledhill-Hoyt, Jeana, and Hang Lee, Changes in binge drinking and related problems among American college students between 1993 and 1997: Results of the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study, Journal of American College Health, Volume 47, 1998. Written by: Jennifer Wider, M.D. © September 27, 2007 Society for Women's Health Research
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