Female Binge Drinking

Binge drinking among college-age women has grown into a problem equal to male over-consumption of alcohol, experts say.

ABC News reported March 10 that more college-age women — including those under age 21 — are drinking at levels once associated mainly with frat boys. “They are not only drinking more than their male peers, but they are now more likely to drink more heavily than their male peers,” said David Jernigan, executive director at Georgetown University’s Center for Alcohol Marketing and Youth (CAMY).

“There has been a huge amount of effort to stop underage drinking in this country in the last 10 years. It’s made some impact with the boys. We are not getting anywhere with the girls.”

Beyond health concerns, heavy drinking by women also increases the risk of sexual abuse. Koren Zailckas, 25, details her story of heavy college drinking in a new book called “Smashed,” saying that peer pressure led her to start drinking at age 15. At Syracuse University, she suffered blackouts and occasionally woke up naked, without knowing what had happened to her the night before.

Zailckas maintained good grades in school, but said she only felt confident when she was drinking. “It was the only time that I could feel empowered, when I was drinking or was drunk, and feel like I could have the upper hand with the man I was talking to, chat him up,” she said.

On college campuses, the problem is evident: nine female University of Colorado at Boulder students were hospitalized for alcohol poisoning in just one weekend last fall, and a 19-year-old Colorado State student, Samantha Spadey, died of an alcohol overdose in 2004.

Spadey died after drinking from a bottle of vanilla-flavored vodka, and her parents are hoping to raise awareness about the danger of such drinks. “I truly believe that if alcohol tasted like the poison that it actually is rather than candy … I don’t think you’d have young people as intrigued by it, or it wouldn’t go down as easy,” said her mother, Pat.

“For every Samantha Spadey, there are literally 1,399 other deaths on college campuses per year as a result of alcohol use,” said CAMY’s Jernigan. “I wish it were just that isolated instance. But it’s not.”

Women interviewed at the University of Wisconsin at Madison told reporters that they drink to get drunk, start drinking early in the night to avoid the hassles of police sweeps and ID checks at bars, and play drinking games where it is easy to lose track of how much alcohol they’ve consumed.

From; Join Together Online

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