(U-WIRE) WASHINGTON – The amount you drink may be related to where you go to school according to a new report released last Tuesday by the Center for Disease Control. The report, which analyzed the data from two national surveys, found that the state where you live is a predictor of binge drinking among college students and the general population.
“Seventy-five percent of binge drinking episodes occur beyond college age,” said study co-author Dr. Timothy Naimi. “College binge drinking is only part of the problem.”
Published in the March 2005 American Journal of Public Health, the study compared state specific rates of binge drinking among college students with state specific rates among young adults in 40 states. Binge drinking refers to having five or more alcoholic drinks on a single occasion.
“College binge drinking gets a lot of attention, but it’s intertwined with and reflects binge drinking in society at large,” said Naimi.
The study showed that binge drinking was approximately one third lower in the ten states with the lowest general population binge drinking rates.
“A lot of programs to curb college binge drinking have been failures,” said Naimi. “Feel good educational programs without community based control measures don’t work.”
States with the highest college binge drinking rates were Maryland, Wisconsin, Vermont, Iowa, Delaware and South Carolina. States with the lowest college binge drinking rates included Utah, Oregon, New Hampshire, Tennessee and North Carolina.
“I know the laws are tough at home,” said North Carolina resident and George Washington University student Sarah Mechum. “I used to never get carded, but now I get carded even when I’m at a restaurant with my parents.”
The North Carolina Governor’s Institute reviewed state colleges and universities and found that 33 had substance free housing and 12 had only substance free housing.
State level control measures include controlling the number of bars, the sale of alcohol to people already intoxicated, and the time alcohol can be sold.
“In Tennessee, beer and liquor aren’t sold together,” said Tennessee native Josh Rosenblatt. “Beer is sold only in a grocery store or gas station — not liquor stores. Liquor is sold only at liquor stores.”
Binge drinking accounts for almost half of the 75,000 alcohol related deaths in the United States every year. According to Harvard School of Public Health’s College Alcohol Study, approximately 44 percent of college students between 1993-2001 were heavy drinkers.
“I don’t think binge drinking is necessarily how much you drink, but more the fact that you can’t control it when you drink,” said Colgate University senior Dan Malessa.
“Binge drinking remains one of the most common health risks for college students,” said Naimi.
The study analyzed data from the College Alcohol Study, which surveys college students, and Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System, which includes the general public.
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