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College Students At Risk From Binge-Drinking

June 3, 2009

A recent study proposes that college students who practice excessive binge-drinking face considerable risk of injuries or accidents, Reuters reported. 

In a collection of 2,000 college students plagued with drinking problems, researchers found that those who confessed to “extreme” drinking ““ eight or more drinks in a day for men, five or more for women ““ were more prone to have endured a recent alcohol-related injury than their peers.

For each day of over-indulgent drinking in a given month, risk of a drinking-related injury climbed by 19 percent in men. 

And in women, that same risk escalated by 10 percent, the findings indicated.  The full report can be viewed online in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

It is common knowledge that excessive drinking often causes accidents or injuries, but the findings offer evidence that the risks continue to “grow rapidly” with more intake, Dr. Marlon P. Mundt and colleagues at the University of Wisconsin-Madison suggest.

Additional findings reveal that increased risk of drinking-associated injuries were evident in students possessing “sensation-seeking” personalities, as determined by a standard questionnaire. 

“College administrators, parents, and clinicians need to focus their intervention efforts on these students — ‘frequent extreme heavy drinkers’ — who score high on sensation-seeking disposition,” Mundt urged.

“These are the students at high risk for injury,” the researcher added. “Quantities alone, or frequency of consumption alone, do not show the whole picture. A drinking pattern of frequent extreme intoxication is key, as it escalates injury rates rapidly.”

The interviews of 2,090 students at five U.S. universities helped to make up the research results.  The participants had all screened positive for risky drinking at their college health clinic.  If drinking habits consisted of three or more days of the week, and consuming more than 15 drinks in a week for men, or 12 or more per week for women, participants were considered risky drinkers. 

The researchers found that even within this group, over-indulgent binge-drinking was associated with a significantly higher risk of recent injury.

But Mundt and his colleagues emphasize that the results do not mean that extreme drinkers are the only students facing risk.  Drinking in smaller quantities should not be viewed as “safeguard” against injuries, they wrote. 

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