Drinking games are alcohol-centered games that inevitably promote rapid and typically excessive alcohol intake in participants. Regular involvement in such games substantially increases a person’s risks for binge drinking and heavy drinking, two activities capable of triggering severe short- or long-term alcohol-related harm. In a study published in October 2014 in the journal Addictive Behaviors, researchers from several U.S. universities examined the roles that racial/ethnic background and gender play in increasing or decreasing the odds that a college student on an American campus will take part in drinking games and subsequently experience alcohol-related problems.
Racial/Ethnic Background And Alcohol
The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration uses a yearly project called the National Survey on Drug Use and Health to track the amount of alcohol typically consumed by people from various racial/ethnic backgrounds. Results from the most recent version of this survey, completed for the year 2013, indicate that people with European ancestry are the most likely to consume alcohol in any amount in the average month. Four racial/ethnic groups — Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders, Hispanic/Latinos, European Americans and American Indian or Alaska Natives — have a roughly equal level of involvement in the rapid drunkenness-producing practice of binge drinking.
Conversely, binge drinking participation is lowest among Asian Americans. The group with the highest risks for heavy drinking, a sustained pattern of excessive alcohol intake that substantially increases the odds of developing diagnosable alcohol problems, is Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islanders. Asian Americans have the lowest risks for heavy drinking.
Gender And Alcohol
According to the results from the 2013 version of the National Survey on Drug Use and Health, men and teenage boys over the age of 17 consume alcohol significantly more often than women and teenage girls over the age of 17. This fact holds true among men and women in the typical college age range of 18 to 25. Approximately 62 percent of men in this age range consume alcohol in the average month, as do roughly 57 percent of women. Men in the 18-to-25 age range also binge drink more often than women in the 18-to-25 age range. While roughly 44 percent of 18- to 25-year-old men binge drink in the typical month, just 31 percent of 18- to 25-year-old women binge drink this often.
College Attendance And Alcohol
Compared to their age contemporaries not enrolled in college, young people attending college consume alcohol more often, the 2013 findings from the National Survey on Drug Use and Health indicate. College-age people actually enrolled in college also have higher rates for binge drinking and for heavy drinking. While baseline monthly drinking rates remain high in people who graduate from college, college graduates experience a fairly steep decline in binge drinking participation and heavy drinking.
Impact On Drinking Game Involvement
In the study published in Addictive Behaviors, researchers from Smith College, the University of Miami, the University of Texas at Austin and several other universities used the help of 7,409 students enrolled at multiple colleges throughout the U.S. to assess the impact that racial/ethnic ancestry and gender have on the chances that any given student will become a drinking game participant. The researchers undertook this project, in part, because evidence gathered through previous research efforts indicated that two groups of college students who play drinking games — women and non-Europeans — have heightened chances of subsequently developing notable alcohol-related difficulties. The study pool included men and women of European American, African American, Hispanic/Latino and Asian-American ancestry.
After completing their analysis, the researchers concluded that college men who participate in drinking games actually have higher risks for subsequent alcohol-related difficulties than college women. The only variation from this norm occurred among African Americans. African American women apparently have higher drinking game-related alcohol risks than African American men. Before making these findings, the researchers took steps to account for all other factors that could potentially influence the drinking game risks for college students, including age and participation in any given school’s fraternity or sorority system.
Overall, the study’s authors believe their work underscores the importance of taking racial/ethnic background and gender into account when assessing the damaging consequences of drinking game involvement on college campuses. They also believe that their work underscores the potential need to increase the amount of attention that anti-drinking campaigns on college campuses pay to the risks for African American women who take part in drinking games.
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