College students who binge expensive drinks despite having classes or tests the next day are more likely to become alcoholics later in life, study suggests

  • Researchers gave college students two scenarios in which they had to say how many drinks they would buy in one night across a range of prices
  • One scenario involved no next day responsibilities while the other involved an important test the next day
  • Those who chose to buy drinks no matter the price with a test the next day were more likely to drink on weekdays and suffer from alcohol dependence
  • But students who bought drinks with no next day responsibilities were more likely to drink on weekends and have mild alcohol problems like hangovers

College students who drink when they have a test the next day are more likely to binge drink on weekdays and suffer from alcohol dependence, a new study suggests.

Researchers gave college students two scenarios in which they had to say how many drinks they would buy in one night across a range of prices. 

In one context, they had nothing to do the next day and, in the other context, they had a very important test. 

Those who drank when they had no responsibilities were more likely to drink on weekends and have less severe alcohol-related problems like a hangover.

But students who continued to buy drinks in spite of responsibility were more likely to drink during the week and be compulsive drinkers, the team from Florida State University in Tallahassee found.

Four out of five American college students drink alcohol, and nearly half are binge drinkers, according to Addiction Center.

While many students just drink in social situations, excessive drinking can lead to harmful consequences.

Nearly 600,000 are accidentally injured while under the influence of alcohol and about 25 percent of students report academic consequences of their drinking. 

For the new study, published in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research, the team recruited 370 undergraduate students.

All of them were heavy drinkers and provided information on how much they alcohol they typically had in a week as well as any drinking-related problems.

The students were given two hypothetical scenarios in which they were asked how many drinks they would buy at prices ranging from $0 to $20 per drink

In one scenario, they had no next-day responsibilities and, in other situation, they had a test the next morning worth 25 percent of their class grade.

Results showed that students said they would drink less as the price for alcohol increased under the next day test context.

The few who said they would continue to buy drinks as price went up, even if they had a test the next day, were more likely to frequently drink on weekdays and have a dependence on alcohol.

But, under the no next-day responsibility scenario, those who drank were more likely to drink on the weekend and have milder alcohol-related problem, such as hangovers.   

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Researchers say the results suggest that clinicians could provide this exercise to the general public to better identify heavy-drinkers at greatest risk of severe alcohol problems.

‘The findings support the theory that addiction is a disorder of ‘behavioral allocation’, in which decisions to drink are less responsive to circumstances that limit drinking for most drinkers,’ the authors wrote. 



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