Sexual assaults often linked to binge drinking

A wide body of academic research has linked binge drinking among college students to unwanted sexual advances and nonconsensual sex.

Binge drinking is commonly defined as having five or more alcoholic drinks in a single occasion.

Such binges are on the rise, according to a long-term study published in 2009 in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

That study found that in 2005, 44.7 percent of college students ages 18 to 24 said they binge drank within the past 30 days, versus 41.7 in 1998.

The majority of rapes of college-age women take place when the victim is too intoxicated to resist, a University at Buffalo study published by the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda, Md., noted.

The NIH-published study argued that prevention programs targeting drinking might be more effective than programs targeting sexual vulnerability because of the strong link between heavy drinking and sexual assault.

A more recent study confirmed a strong relationship between having an unwanted sexual advance and recent binge drinking or drinking to cope with emotional distress.

And women are more likely to experience those unwanted advances, according to that study, which was by the University of Maryland, College Park and Missouri State University, Springfield and published in January’s edition of the Journal of Interpersonal Violence.

An earlier study by University of Georgia researchers confirmed that college women who binge drink put themselves at a greater risk of experiencing an alcohol-involved rape than those who don’t.

That study, published in the journal Addictive Behaviors, found that women commonly underestimate their risk for sexual assault.

Women who regularly binge drink are also more likely to perceive themselves as being more effective at resisting a rape attempt, the study found.

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