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Binge Drinking in College Leads to Alcohol-Related Injury

Not surprisingly, a recent study showed that heavy drinkers with a sensation-seeking disposition had the greatest risk of alcohol-related injuries. What is surprising, though, is that more than 1,700 US college students aged 18-24 died from alcohol-related injuries in 2001; more than 500,000 college students suffered alcohol-related injuries in 2001; about 2.8 million college students drove under the influence in the past 12 months; and 600,000 college students were hit or assaulted by another student who was under the influence of alcohol.

Marlon P. Mundt, assistant scientist in the department of Family Medicine at the University of Wisconsin-Madison said that while previous studies have looked at the connection between average college alcohol consumption or binge drinking and physical injury, this study examined the combined “dose-response” effects of drinking quantities and frequencies on the risk of alcohol-related injury among college students.

Mundt and his colleagues surveyed 12,900 college students seeking routine health care in five college health clinics on alcohol use and other health risk behaviors. Of these, 2,090 people who exceeded at-risks levels of alcohol consumption agreed to participate in interviews that assessed alcohol use in the last 28 days as well as alcohol-related injuries in the preceding six months.

Mundt explained that males who drank more than 8 drinks or females who drank more than 5 drinks on at least four days per month (for example, every weekend), were five times more likely to be injured than those who did not frequently cross this limit. "In addition, students who scored high on sensation-seeking disposition also experienced greater risk for alcohol-related injuries,” Mundt said.

He said that college administrators, parents, and clinicians need to focus their intervention efforts on these “frequent extreme heavy drinkers” who score high on sensation-seeking disposition. “These are the students at high risk for injury. 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."

Posted on May 27th, 2009
Posted in Binge Drinking

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