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Binge drinking tied to conditions in the college environment
Date:7/11/2008

Boston, MA -- Heavy alcohol use, or binge drinking, among college students in the United States is tied to conditions in the college environment. That is one of the key findings from research conducted by researchers with the Harvard School of Public Health College Alcohol Study (CAS), a landmark study that surveyed more than 50,000 students at 120 colleges from 1993 to 2001. In a new review that examines the findings from the CAS and their implications, the researchers conclude that heavy drinking behavior of students was more common in college environments that have a strong drinking culture, few alcohol control policies on campus or in the surrounding community, weak enforcement of existing policies, and alcohol made easily accessible through low prices, heavy marketing and special promotions. The review appears in the July 2008 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

The review was conducted by CAS Director Henry Wechsler, lecturer on society, human development and health at Harvard School of Public Health and Assistant Director Toben Nelson, assistant professor of epidemiology and community health at the University of Minnesota.

During its 14-year existence, the CAS focused attention on widespread binge drinking at American colleges and the ensuing serious health and social consequences to drinkers, fellow students and neighbors. "Our study drew attention to the heavy drinking of students, most of whom were not considered alcoholics or in need of traditional treatment, but nevertheless experienced problems as a result of their drinking," said Wechsler. Students who binge drink--defined by the CAS as five or more drinks in a row for males, and four or more drinks for females, on a single occasion in the past two weeks--are more likely to experience a wide range of problems, including academic difficulties, social conflict, risky sexual behavior, risky driving behavior, vandalism, injury and alcohol overdose. Binge dri
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Contact: Todd Datz
tdatz@hsph.harvard.edu
617-432-3952
Harvard School of Public Health
Source:Eurekalert

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