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Study helps identify college drinkers who might continue excessive drinking as adults
Date:3/24/2009

COLUMBUS, Ohio College students who are problem drinkers using alcohol to cope with personal problems and boost self-confidence are more likely to continue excessive drinking into adulthood, a recent study suggests.

The Ohio State University survey results suggest that adults who are still high-risk drinkers by age 34 may have inadvertently used alcohol to blunt the social and cognitive development that typically occurs during college, including the ability to handle alcohol.

Binge drinking involves consuming five or more drinks for men and four or more drinks for women in a single sitting, as previously described by Harvard researchers. The Ohio State study categorized high-risk drinkers based on their scores on a National Institute for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism questionnaire. In all cases, this drinking puts people at risk for serious consequences ranging from fatal injuries and sexual abuse to academic or mental problems and alcohol dependence.

High-risk drinkers in the survey who stopped problem drinking after college typically reduced their alcohol use during school a sign in itself that their social development was closer to what is considered normal and on track.

If the subset of students most likely to continue problem drinking in adulthood can be identified during college, they might benefit from counseling or programming that specifically aims to lower long-term high-risk drinking, the researchers say. And the junior year might be the best time to introduce the intervention.

"We saw clear differences that, if they could be identified during college, could potentially lead to interventions that would make a difference in the long term," said Ada Demb, associate professor of educational policy and leadership at Ohio State and senior author of the study.

Demb completed this exploratory study with Corbin Campbell, a former master's student in Ohio State's higher education and student affairs p
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Contact: Ada Demb
demb.1@osu.edu
614-292-1865
Ohio State University
Source:Eurekalert

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