Saturday September 20th 2014

College binge drinking facts: Top 10

Researchers don’t know yet about the long-term effects of binge drinking during college. But the outlook is grim.

Here, we present some stark truths about binge drinking from the book, College Drinking and Drug Use.  An interesting read for anyone in substance abuse treatment, this book is a wealth of information on CURRENT trends in college drinking.  I highly recommend this book for university administrators, mental health professionals or policy makers working with college aged young men and women.  More below on facts about college drinking, and the implications binge drinking has for young people everywhere. We invite your questions about college binge drinking at the end.

College Drinking and Drug Use BOOK REVIEW

If you work with college students in the university setting, College Drinking and Drug Use is essential reading for you. The book can be used as a go-to reference for the most up-to-date information on college alcohol and drug use patterns. Spanning 15 chapters, you can learn about the problem of substance abuse among young adults, as well as prevention and policy strategies that might address college drinking and drug use. We highly recommend College Drinking and Drug Use for any university administrator, health provider, mental health provider or policy maker interested in addiction issues. Following, you can check out the Top 10 facts on college binge drinking we gleaned from our reading.

What is binge drinking?

Binge drinking is defined as consuming four (4) drinks in one drinking session for women, and five (5) drinks for men.

Binge drinking effects on the brain

To date, very few scientific studies have examined how intermittent binge drinking affects the young adult human mind. However, researchers believe that binge drinking can be associated with structural and function brain changes. Not only does binge drinking affect how we cognitively function in the work and use our brains to speak, think and act…but binge drinking in our college years may actually CHANGE the way our brains work in the long term.

Top 10 facts on college binge drinking

1. Alcohol is the most popular drug among college aged youth. In fact, 40% of college students report binge drinking.

2. College students are more likely than non-college students to binge drink in any 30 day period. In fact, binge drinking rates are consistently 5 to 6 percentage points higher for college students than non-college students since the early 1980s.

3. Young men are more likely to binge drink than young women (15-20 percentage points higher in the past 30 years).

4. The brain is still undergoing neuro-developmental processes that peak during the college years. So researchers are concerned how binge drinking may affect the brain.

5. Binge drinking during early adulthood may be related in structural abnormalities of the brain, particularly in grey matter and white matter structures related to cognition.

6. Negative cognitive effects of binge drinking include poorer sustained attention, deficits in memory, spatial working memory, and psycho-motor speed, which may be associated with lower grades in heavy drinkers.

7. Research in the way the brain operates suggests that binge drinking can contribute to deficits in the ability to learn new information. Recent binge drinking may lead to less efficient brain processing and decreased ability to hold new information in mind.

8. Binge drinking seems to be particularly harmful to young women. Young women diagnosed with alcohol use disorders performed the worst on spatial working memory tasks, deficits that may alter structural brain patterns if they continue to binge drink into adulthood.

9. The primary reason young adults in college drink is to have a good time with friends.

10. College drinking may sometimes help students achieve social or identity based goals although it can also threaten health and well-being.

College binge drinking questions

Do you still have questions about college binge drinking? Please leave your questions or comments below. We try to respond to all questions with a personal and prompt response

Reference sources: College Binge Drinking and Drug Use (2011), edited by Helene Raskin White and David L. Rabiner

Photo credit: PAGalloway

Leave a Reply