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Study Finds Where You Drink as Important as How Much

A new study published in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs found that when drinking, where you do it matters as much as the quantity, when it comes to sexual assault and aggressive behavior. This provides a new dimension to those who have traditionally believed binge-drinking to be a major factor when it comes to dangerous scenarios for sexual assault.

The study followed the partying and hook-up behaviors of more than 1,000 straight men over four semesters, from the beginning of the freshman year. It found that men’s attendance at “drinking venues,” i.e. bars and parties, was a better predictor of their sexual aggression than their binge-drinking habits or attitudes about sex.

To some, however, this might seem a little obvious.

“I think if you survey college women, [they] know that when you go to a frat house, you hopefully [think to yourself], Okay, I need to be on edge. This is a danger zone,” says Rory Newlands, a graduate student at the University of Nevada at Reno and the lead author of a critical review of some sexual-violence-prevention programs on college campuses.

“If you’re at home drinking alone, you’re probably not going to perpetrate against someone,” she says. “But [it’s different if] you’re going to this environment where you’re already primed to be thinking, like, This is a hookup hot spot, and I’m drinking, so I’m going to have sex.”

For universities that are grappling with what they can do to prevent sexual assault on campus, this new research suggests that focusing on certain spaces could have an impact.

This was certainly the thought behind recent protests at Swarthmore College last week, when a group of students calling themselves the Coalition to End Fraternity Violence seized Phi Kappa Psi’s fraternity house. The move to seize the frat house came after some internal document from Phi Kappa Psi were leaked to campus news outlets, which revealed (among other things) that a room of the house was referred to as the “rape attic.”

According to the recent study, hot spots, such as Swarthmore’s Phi Kappa Psi’s “rape attic” are an unfortunately common phenomenon.

See also: Is Your Drinking Dangerous?

Not all Fun and Games: Drinking and Drug Abuse in College

Heavy drinking may be sign of bigger problem

Is Your Drinking Dangerous?

The National Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence endorses Alcohol Awareness Month each April. They encourage the public to speak out about the dangers of alcohol abuse, alcoholism and recovery.

With binge drinking being so common among students due to high-stress levels, the dangers of alcohol abuse can be destructive to college success.

Dangers of binge drinking

Among students, binge drinking can be a common, exhilarating activity. Binge drinking involves consuming more than 4 drinks for women or 5 drinks for men within two hours. The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIH) found that nearly 60 percent of students ages 18-22 drink, and two-thirds of this group report engaging in binge drinking.

Although binge drinking may seem normal in college, it poses serious adverse risks. The same study found that nearly 1,825 students ages 18-24 die from alcohol-related injuries and 97,000 students are a victim of sexual assault or rape while alcohol is involved each year. Perhaps the most shocking finding from this study is that nearly 20 percent of students meet the basis for having an alcohol use disorder.

Stress and drinking

Pressure from classes can place a lot of stress on students. These stress levels can increase significantly during exams, as students are hastily packing in as much studying as possible. Stress can also be related to pressures from family, peers and relationships. When trying to balance all of these factors with school, stress can become plentiful. Since alcohol is a depressant, many find it effective in relieving stress.

In order to manage stress in a healthy way, students should be aware of the resources available to them. Many schools have a mental health counselor who can provide guidance on how to effectively manage stress. Other ways that can help reduce stress include exercise, yoga, meditation, time management and support groups.

Evaluate your relationship with alcohol

An important part of Alcohol Awareness Month is Alcohol Free Weekend from April 5-7. People are invited to participate in 72 hours without alcohol. If you experience any discomfort or difficulty abstaining during these hours, you may have a problem with alcohol.

Differentiating between heavy drinking and alcoholism may prove difficult, but you can evaluate your relationship with alcohol by asking these questions:

  • Has drinking caused problems with your family, friends, or studies?
  • Have you continued to drink even when you shouldn’t?
  • Have you tried to quit, or control the amount you drink, but were unable to?
  • Do you experience cravings, or strong desires, to drink?
  • Have you found yourself consuming increasing amounts of alcohol to achieve the effects you desire?
  • Have you placed drinking as a priority over your other obligations?
  • Do you experience withdrawal symptoms when not drinking?

If you answer yes to several or all of these questions, it is an indication that your alcohol use is unhealthy, and you may have an alcohol use disorder. If you think you have a problem with alcohol, it is essential to get the help you need before it causes detrimental effects on your health, education, and future career.

See also: Expert Tips on How to Breakup with Your Phone