College students are turning & more often to alcohol as a social lubricant, drinking more heavily & and aiming to get drunk more often, according to a survey released last week. Two Harvard University re - searchers have concluded that & fewer students engage in social & drinking than they did a decade ago and raise questions about the con - sequences of so-called "binge & drinking" on students' safety. The researchers drew their con - clusions after analyzing informa - tion from 1669 incoming freshman at 14 Massachusetts colleges in & 1989. They defined binge drinkers as people who had drunk five or more drinks on one occasion in the two weeks before completing the survey. Forty percent of the male respon - dents said they drank to get drunk, twice the number of males who & gave that response in a similar & survey in 1977. Nearly 34 percent of female re - spondents said they drank to get drunk in the 1989 survey, a figure more than three times higher than the 1977 results. While the number of non- drinkers has also increased -- from 3 percent to 9.4 percent of the men and from 4 pecent to 14.9 percent of women -- the number of "frequent/ light" drinkers has fallen to less than two percent of surveyed men and women. The survey also concluded that binge drinkers were more likely to have alcohol-related social prob - lems than non-drinkers and that & both male and female drinkers & were far more likely to drink and drive or ride in a car with a drunk driver. Robert Wenger, assistant direc - tor of Student Health Psychiatry, said the survey proves the findings of the initial survey in 1977 that "there's a fairly stable set of people on campus who unfortunately are misusing and abusing alcohol." The survey did not discuss why students drank heavily and in - tended to get drunk. Wengler said the causes of alcohol misuse and abuse are complex, but he said al - cohol abuse is often an individual response to social, academic and personal pressures. Wengler also said he wondered if drinking heavily was an institu - tional part of undergraduate social life at the University. "I've run into a number of stu - dents who seem to feel that drink - ing is part of the milieu at Penn and so they do feel some social pressure to define having a good time as & drinking -- often to their capacity," Wengler said. Wengler said University officials were as concerned about the high- risk behaviors associated with alco - hol misues as they were about the drinking itself. He added that the University's Drug and Alcohol Task Force has been "revitalized" to con - tinue looking at ways to reach stu - dents with alcohol problems.Comments powered by Disqus
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