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Impulsive College Women at Risk of Drinking Problems: Study
Date:11/8/2012

THURSDAY, Nov. 8 (HealthDay News) -- Female college students who act impulsively when they're distressed are at increased risk of developing a drinking problem, a new study suggests.

Alcohol dependence puts college women at danger for a number of negative consequences, including poorer school performance and increased risk of sexual assault, accidental injury and even death, according to the researchers.

The study included 319 women (235 drinkers and 84 nondrinkers) in their first semester at a large university in the southeastern United States. The participants' drinking behavior, alcohol dependence symptoms and impulsive behavior traits were assessed by the researchers, and the students were followed for three months.

Negative urgency (a trait in which a person tends to act rashly when having negative emotions) and lack of deliberation (a trait in which a person acts without thinking) both predicted increases in alcohol dependence symptoms in the college students, the study authors found.

The largest increase in alcohol dependence symptoms was seen in women who had high negative urgency and said they wanted to drink to change their emotions (either to enhance positive feelings or get rid of negative feelings), according to study corresponding author Monika Kardacz Stojek, a graduate student in the department of psychology at the University of Georgia, and colleagues.

The study was released online Nov. 8 in advance of publication in the February print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research.

The findings could help female college students stay safe, Stojek suggested.

"It seems that women who know that they tend to act without thinking when they are upset should be aware that they might be more at risk for negative consequences from drinking if they impulsively drink while in that negative mood," she said in a journal news release.

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