Binge drinking on the rise in US colleges

June 16th, 2009 - 1:00 pm ICT by IANS  

Washington, June 16 (IANS) Binge drinking among American teenagers and college students have been on the rise, leading to a high number of drinking related deaths, according to a new report.
Drinking-related deaths among students aged to 18-24 years have increased steadily from 1,440 a year in 1998 to 1,825 in 2005, the National Institue on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) said in its report Monday.

According to the report, the proportion of students who reported recent heavy episodic drinking, also called as binge drinking, has increased from 42 percent to 45 percent during the same time.

The proportion of students who admitted to driving under the influence of alcohol also rose from about 26 to 29 percent, said the report, which is based on government data and national survey on alcohol use.

“Unfortunately, what we see is the proportion of college students who engage in binge drinking has increased,” said Ralph Hingson, lead researcher and director of the institute’s epidemiology and prevention research division.

“The fact that we’re not making progress is very concerning,” he said, adding that the whole culture of drinking and driving under the influence among young people in the US needs to be changed.

According to Hingson, the problem of alcoholism often begins before college.

“The younger people are when they first become intoxicated, the greater the likelihood that when they are in college they will meet alcohol-dependence criteria: that they will drive after drinking; that they will ride with drinking drivers; they will be injured under the influence of alcohol; or they will have unplanned and unprotected sex after drinking.”

According to their findings, Hingson said, nearly 700,000 students are being “assaulted each year by a drinking college student” and 100,000 sexual assaults are linked to college drinking.

“Plus half of the drinking-related traffic deaths among college students are people other than the drinking driver,” he added.

Hingson and his colleagues report their findings in a special supplemental issue to the July issue of the “Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs” devoted to college drinking problems.

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