Tuesday, November 28, 2000

Harvard U. Study Shows Large Increase for Both Binge Drinkers and Teetotalers, Substance Abuse Funding News

Harvard U. Study Shows Large Increase for Both Binge Drinkers and Teetotalers
By Pamela Appea
Substance Abuse Funding News, Alcohol
November 28, 2000
Copyright 2000 by Community Development Publications

The incidence of student alcohol abuse on college campuses has gotten worse—not better—nationwide. A team of Harvard School of Public Health researchers find the number of students who report binge drinking, along with the number of those who abstain from drinking alcohol, has increased.

The study found two out of five students say there were binge drinkers.

Binge drinking, a term coined by Henry Wechsler, a Harvard U. alcohol abuse expert, is the consumption of five or more drinks in a row for men and four or more for women.

Around 19% of students in the survey said they abstain from drinking alcohol altogether, while 23% of students say they are frequent binge drinkers.

Wechsler says many college campuses have previously discussed ways to decrease college drinking, yet most are unable effectively to decrease the incidence of binge drinking.

The team say there are no “magic solutions” when considering the implementation of prevention programs for college students. But they encourage college administrations to highlight education and prevention campaigns so problems on college campuses associated with alcohol abuse, including date rape and harassment; property damage; self-injury; and verbal harassment, can be minimized.

Prevention recommendations include:

Examining alcohol marketing at college campuses
Drinking history of college students
Providing alcohol-free social and recreational events on campus
Enacting control policies and making sure to enforce them

Heavy binge drinkers will not change unless “forced” to do so, the report says. Students who do not believe they have a drinking problem may respond to a “three strikes and you’re out” punishment approach, it says.

Info: Wechsler, Department of Health & Social Behavior, Harvard School of Public Health, 677 Huntington Ave., Boston, MA 02115, http://www.hsph.harvard.edu