Although binge drinking is not recommended for anyone, a new study in Europe suggests that the still-developing brains of college students may be particularly vulnerable to the practice’s harmful effects.
Binge drinking is defined as a man consuming 5 or more drinks within a 2-hour period. For women, the threshold is 4 drinks.
Published in Frontiers of Behavioral Neuroscience, the study differs from previous research because it focused on the “resting brain” activity of college-age students who had recently engaged in binge drinking. Prior studies have already highlighted the negative impact that binge drinking has on working memory and attention.
Compared to their abstaining peers, college students who consume large amounts of alcohol in a short period of time may later have problems processing information.
The human brain continues to develop until the early-to-mid-20’s, and the younger the person is, the greater the effect alcohol has. This plasticity is why drinking while pregnant is so harmful to fetuses, why experimenting with addictive substances as a teen can have lasting consequences, and why this new research indicates that even young adults may still be at-risk.
Why Is This New Information So Important?
For many college students who are away from home and parental supervision for the first time, binge-drinking has become a common practice—a sort of “rite of passage” for some. Although most have already tried alcohol by the time they graduate high school, risky drinking behaviors in college can increase the potential hazards.
According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism:
- 60% of college students (18-22) drank alcohol within the past month
- Among students who drank, two-thirds engaged in binge-drinking.
- Over 1800 college students die due to alcohol-related injuries.
- Nearly 700,000 students are assaulted by another student who had been drinking.
- Almost 100,000 students experience alcohol-related date rape or sexual assault.
Binge drinking is risky at any age, but because of the specific dangers to overly-vulnerable young adults, perhaps part of the college preparation process should be alcohol education.
If you worry about your or someone else’s drinking, contact Lasting Recovery—the most-trusted outpatient alcohol rehab San Diego has to offer.
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