Binge drinking in undergraduates: relationships with sex, drinking behaviors, impulsivity, and the perceived effects of alcohol

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Binge drinking on university campuses is associated with social and health-related problems. To determine the factors that may predict this behavior, we collected information on alcohol use, alcohol expectations, and impulsivity from 428 undergraduate students attending a Canadian university. The subjective effects of a binge drinking dose of alcohol were assessed in a subset of participants. In the larger sample, 72% of students reported drinking at or above binge drinking thresholds on a regular basis. Men reported alcohol consumption per drinking occasion, which was consistent with other studies, but the frequency of drinking occasions among women was higher than in earlier studies, suggesting that consumption in women may be increasing. Compared with men, women reported different expectations of alcohol, specifically related to sociability and sexuality. Self-reported impulsivity scores were related, albeit weakly, to drinking behaviors and to expectations in both the sexes. Finally, intoxicated binge drinkers reported feeling less intoxicated, liking the effects more, and wanting more alcohol than did non-binge drinkers receiving an equivalent dose of alcohol. These results have implications for sex-specific prevention strategies for binge drinking on university campuses.

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