FEMALE college students are beginning to binge drink as often as their male colleagues and in some cases are drinking equal measures of alcohol, a health study has warned.
Third-level students in University College Cork (UCC) were asked about their consumption of alcohol and drugs, and the effects of these on their social and academic lives.
Researchers have called for a drinks and a drugs advisory group to be set up in every college on the back of the findings.
A “concerning trend” was emerging where female students appeared to be binge drinking at least as often as their male colleagues, a significant rise on previous findings.
Binge drinking is defined as having at least four pints of beer/cider or a bottle of wine or its equivalent in spirits on a single drinking occasion.
Some 44.5% of female students queried were binge drinking at least once a week or more compared to 45.5% of males.
When females drank spirits, they had an average of five every drinking session while males drank 4.7. On beer or cider, males drank an average 4.5 pints compared with women’s 3.7 pints.
When it comes to wine, both genders drink on average two glasses each.
The recommended maximum weekly alcohol intake for females is two-thirds of that recommended for men.
UCC researchers spoke with 181 students who attended the college health centre and also looked at any adverse consequences of drinking.
Nearly one in four males had been in a fight as a result of their drinking. Overall, one in ten students reported having unintentional or unprotected sex as a result of alcohol.
Other common adverse effects from drinking included having regretted something said or done, missing days from college and knock-on effects on studies or work. Males suffer more verbal and physical abuse as a result of alcohol, whereas females argue with their family and friends, the research said.
The UCC study, in the latest Irish Medical Journal, called for alcohol and drug groups to be rolled out in colleges to monitor and advise on the effectiveness of third-level policies and the use of substances. The study also found one in four students had used cannabis over the last year, while nearly 7% had used cocaine and 4% had used ecstasy.
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