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College women binging more

by Staff

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Slurring your words, dancing on tabletops and waking up on the bathroom floor are all signs that you probably had a little (or way) too much to drink.

College students are known for partying, especially at San Diego State. In fact, according to www.playboy.com, SDSU ranks fifth in its Top 10 Party Schools list.

There is a point when drinking can become dangerous and research shows that the number of college women binge drinkers, in particular, is on the rise.

Jean Twenge, an associate professor in SDSU’s psychology department and author of the book, “Generation Me,” has researched changes in mental health among college students.

“Today’s college students score higher on measures of stress, anxiety and depression than students did in previous decades,” Twenge said. “This may be one reason why binge drinking has become more frequent – students are trying to escape from the stress they feel. Today’s students also feel a lot of pressure to succeed and to present themselves as successful. Binge drinking may provide a way for them to escape from the pressure of self-presentation.”

In an article on WebMD entitled, “Rise in Alcohol Abuse by College Women,” author Todd Zwillich found that more college women are binge drinking today than in previous years.

“Men have historically reported higher rates of drinking than women. But the difference now seems to have evaporated, according to a survey released by the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University, a nonprofit drug abuse research group,” Zwillich wrote.

Zwillich reported that the research group found a 16 percent rise between 1993 and 2005 in the number of full-time college students who reported that they binge drink frequently. The research group also found that binge drinking rose 22 percent in women, nearly double the increase in men.

Student observations of binge drinking habits are consistent with the research group’s findings.

“Binge drinking in college has become a prerequisite for graduation,” SDSU student Tony Esparza said. “Women do binge drink as much as men, if not more.”

James Lange, the coordinator of Alcohol and Other Drug Initiatives at SDSU said that binge drinking may stem from social influences.

“What is interesting is that there is often a mismatch between what others actually expect and what students think their peers expect,” Lange said. “It turns out most friends do not want to ‘babysit’ a drunk and would rather everyone in their group drink responsibly if they drink.”

Binge drinking is dangerous to both men and women, but it affects women differently.

Lange gave a number of reasons why heavy drinking affects women differently than men.

“First (alcohol) is absorbed faster in (women’s) stomachs,” Lange said. “Second, the fat to water ratio in a woman’s body is typically different than a man’s, so if the same size man and woman drink the same amount of alcohol, the woman will usually have a higher blood alcohol concentration. Impairment is directly tied to BAC, so the woman will be more impaired.”

It is important to remember, however, that heavy drinking affects everyone and to be sure to drink responsibly, if you choose to drink alcohol, Lange added.

“Drinking affects our judgment regardless of gender,” Esparza said.

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