Binge drinking by freshman women tied to sexual assault risk, according to new research

December 08, 2011

BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Many young women who steer clear of alcohol while they're in high school may change their ways once they go off to college. And those who take up binge drinking may be at relatively high risk of sexual assault, according to a University at Buffalo-led study in the January issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.

The college years are famously associated with drinking. But little has been known about how young women change their high school drinking habits once they start college.

So for the new study, the research team followed 437 young women from high school graduation through freshman year of college. They found that of women who had never drank heavily in high school (if at all), nearly half admitted to heavy episodic drinking -- commonly called binge drinking -- at least once by the end of their first college semester. Young women who were already engaging in binge drinking in high school continued drinking at similar levels in college.

What's more, binge drinking was linked to students' risk of sexual victimization -- regardless of what their drinking habits had been in high school.

Of all young women whose biggest binge had included four to six drinks, one quarter said they'd been sexually victimized in the fall semester. That included anything from unwanted sexual contact to rape.

And the more alcohol those binges involved, the greater the likelihood of sexual assault. Of women who'd ever consumed 10 or more drinks in a sitting since starting college, 59 percent were sexually victimized by the end of their first semester. Though young women are not to blame for being victimized -- that fault lies squarely with the perpetrator -- if colleges can make more headway in reducing heavy drinking, they may be able to prevent more sexual assaults in the process.

"This suggests that drinking-prevention efforts should begin before college," said lead researcher Maria Testa, a senior scientist at UB's Research Institute on Addictions.

The study also underscores the fact that even kids who don't drink in high school are at risk of heavy drinking once they head off to college, Testa said.

For parents, the bottom line is to talk with your kids about drinking before they go to college -- whatever you think their drinking habits have been in high school, according to Testa. And after they've left for college, keep talking.

"Parents still do have an impact on their kids after they go to college," Testa said. "Parenting is not over."

-end-
The University at Buffalo is a premier research-intensive public university, a flagship institution in the State University of New York system and its largest and most comprehensive campus. UB's more than 28,000 students pursue their academic interests through more than 300 undergraduate, graduate and professional degree programs. Founded in 1846, the University at Buffalo is a member of the Association of American Universities.

Related Stories:

Study to Examine Drinking and Sexual Aggression: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/11828
Eighteen Percent of Young Women Experience Sexual Victimization: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/8499
UB Researchers Will Study Sexual Assault Scenarios and How to Prevent Them: http://www.buffalo.edu/news/12953

University at Buffalo

Related Binge Drinking Articles from Brightsurf:

A key brain region for controlling binge drinking has been found
A team of researchers at the Charleston Alcohol Research Center at the Medical University of South Carolina has found that turning off a stress signaling system in a single specific brain area can reduce harmful binge drinking.

What leads to compulsive alcohol use? New experiments into binge drinking provide answers
New study from neuroscientists at Vanderbilt provides initial answers to long-standing scientific questions on what causes the transition from moderate to compulsive alcohol consumption - and what makes some drinkers particularly vulnerable to developing alcohol use disorders.

Mechanism connects early binge drinking to adult behaviors
Intermittent exposure to high levels of alcohol in adolescent animals leads to increased levels of microRNA-137 in the brains of adults.

Diverging trends: Binge drinking and depression
Binge drinking among U.S. adolescents precipitously declined from 1991 to 2018, according to a new study at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health.

Frequent drinking is greater risk factor for heart rhythm disorder than binge drinking
Drinking small amounts of alcohol frequently is linked with a higher likelihood of atrial fibrillation than binge drinking, according to research published today in EP Europace, a journal of the European Society of Cardiology (ESC).

Depression and binge-drinking more common among military partners
New research from King's College London suggests that depression and binge-drinking are more common among the female partners of UK military personnel than among comparable women outside the military community.

Depression, cannabis use, and binge drinking are on the rise among US former smokers
A new study in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, published by Elsevier, found that the prevalence of depression, cannabis use, and alcohol abuse increased among former smokers from 2005 to 2016 in the United States.

Depression, cannabis use and binge drinking increase the risk of relapse among former smokers
The prevalence of depression, cannabis use, and alcohol abuse increased among former smokers from 2005 to 2016 in the U.S., according to a new study by researchers at Columbia Mailman School of Public Health.

Binge drinking may be more damaging to women
In a recently published study examining the effects of binge drinking on rats, researchers from the University of Missouri School of Medicine discovered that female rats who were of equal age and weight to male rats were more sensitive to alcohol and experienced alcoholic liver injury at a higher rate than male rats.

Binge drinking in adolescence may increase risk for anxiety later in life
Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago have found that adolescent binge drinking, even if discontinued, increases the risk for anxiety later in life due to abnormal epigenetic programming.

Read More: Binge Drinking News and Binge Drinking Current Events
Brightsurf.com is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com.