College women are catching up to their male counterparts in a very dangerous area: binge drinking. Also known as heavy episodic drinking (HED), it's defined as consuming at least four alcoholic drinks within two hours. It has increased among American female college students by 40 percent in the past three decades.
A recently-published study into HED among underage women divided the 700 students they surveyed over a year at one university here in the mid-Atlantic region into three HED "trajectory classes." These were: abstaining, monthly and high-risk.
The results were roughly evenly divided among the three trajectories. A little over one-third of the women (35.6 percent) reported that they'd had no instances of binge drinking in the past year. Another third (33.4 percent) reported that they engaged in it about once a month. Just slightly less (31 percent) said they engaged in binge drinking on a weekly basis. Women in the high-risk group were more likely to report also using marijuana.
The researchers also looked at factors that could be predictors of which trajectory a young woman might eventually find herself in. These included perceived peer norms, sorority status and beliefs about what it means to be feminine.
Young women who reported binge drinking were more likely to place a high priority on their physical appearance, at least in public, and a lower priority on sexual fidelity than those who reported that they hadn't engaged in binge drinking.
These characteristics could help parents and others who want to help discourage girls from going down a potentially dangerous path with alcohol. The authors of the studies stressed the importance of targeting these gender-specific factors in programs designed to prevent alcohol abuse and help those have a problem with alcohol.
Of course, aside from the many potential dangers involved with binge drinking -- particularly for young women -- underage drinking is against the law. If your child has been charged with underage drinking, the matter should not be taken lightly. It can impact a person's future long after college. It's wise to seek experienced legal guidance as soon as possible.
Source: Newswise, "University Women: Gender Parity in Underage Drinking," Feb. 02, 2018