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Binge drinking rates among women increase, campus tackles problem

A recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study concluded that 24 percent of college-aged women binge drink.

According to the CDC, binge drinking for women is considered consuming four or more alcoholic drinks in a single setting.

“Although four drinks is plenty enough for a person to feel buzzed, I personally would not consider that binge drinking,” said public relations senior Celeste Garza.

“Binge has the connotation to be more than excessive. I think a binge drinker should be classified as someone who drinks three drinks per hour. Four drinks a night, to me, is hardly binge drinking.”

To a college woman, that amount may come as a surprise, but to Woman Resource Center director Beverly McPhail, it is not.

“These are just the consequences of equality,”  McPhail said.

“It’s partly good news, women should be able to party and enjoy themselves, like men do. It’s all about educating the consequences of the reality.”

From fraternity parties to socializing with friends, at a bar, alcohol is part of any college students’ coming of age. For women, this carries an increased level of concern because according to the study, binge drinking increases the risk of unintended pregnancies, rape and violence.

“Women do not metabolize alcohol as fast as men, so it leaves us more vulnerable,” McPhail said.

To help combat the risk for violence and to help educate students about alcohol, UH has launched “Intent and Motivation: Alcohol Group Exercise.” The program uses a cohort-based approach to increase prevention. The cohorts involved with the program include residential life and housing, athletic teams, sororities and fraternities.

The program has twice been awarded Model Program status by the U.S. Department of Education.

“Part of the program is to provide students and organizations accurate information about alcohol and drinking,” said Gail Gillan, director of the Wellness Center.

“Students almost always overestimate the amount of drinking their peers are doing, thus giving them permission to drink more.”

Instead of focusing on the number of drinks women have, IMAGE focuses more on the frequency of drinks.

“We do not actually focus on or use the term binge drinking … Four drinks in a sitting, well what does that mean? We try to look, instead, at high risk drinking (large quantities over a short period of time). Instead of the number of drinks, what about the consumption frequency that is more likely to result in a negative consequence?” Gillan said.

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