Drinking Up at Women's Colleges; Harvard Study Shows Binge Behavior Has Risen Sharply

Article excerpt

Byline: Ellen Sorokin, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Frequent binge drinking has more than doubled on all-women college campuses in the past decade, a recent alcohol-consumption study conducted by the Harvard School of Public Health shows.

Between 1993 and last year, all-women colleges saw a 124 percent increase in frequent binge drinking - from 5 percent in 1993 to 12 percent last year. Such drinking is having four drinks in a row at least three times in the previous two weeks.

"This is further proof that no place is isolated anymore," said Henry Wechsler, director of the College Alcohol Studies at Harvard University's School of Public Health, which conducted the study. "Our previous studies have found that attending college at an all-women school was very protective. That seems to be less so now."

The number of teetotalers declined by 20 percent at the schools, where binge drinking having four or more drinks in the previous two weeks increased from 24 percent in 1993 to 32 percent last year.

Abstention increased 11 percent among women at co-ed schools, the study showed.

Mr. Wechsler said women who drink heavily are putting themselves at greater risk for unplanned pregnancies or sexual assault.

He said that, among the women who drank, there was a 150 percent jump in unplanned sexual activities, date rape and sexual assault.

The study surveyed more than 10,000 full-time students at 119 colleges in 38 states and the District of Columbia. Five of the 119 are all-women schools. The names of the colleges and universities surveyed were not disclosed.

Mr. Wechsler said the increase could be attributed to the type of women who attend all-women schools today. …