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College Students and Drinking

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This paper reviews drinking among college students, particularly binge drinking and its consequences, and compares it to that of noncollege peers; it also considers some colleges' attempts to prevent and treat abusive drinking on campus.
Many researchers define binge drinking for men and women as drinking five or more drinks at one sitting. By this definition, 40 percent of college students reported binge drinking at least once within 2 weeks of being surveyed in 1994. Thirty-one percent of college women binge drank compared with 52 percent of college men. Among men, research shows that greater alcohol use is related to greater sexual aggression and assault. Heavy drinking or alcohol-related problems during college many be associated with personality characteristics, such as being impulsive; psychological problems, such as depression or anxiety; or early deviant behavior. As in the general population, a positive family history of alcohol abuse is apparently a risk factor for problem drinking among college students. Irrespective of the alcohol- related problems that college students experience, their degree of social acceptance may be tied to drinking behavior. Alcohol abuse prevention and treatment programs exist on many campuses, but few have been evaluated. Interventions include education programs and efforts to change drinking behavior. 42 references