Study: Binge Drinking Harmful To Critical-Thinking Skills

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File photo of two female drinkers at a bar.  (credit:  Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

File photo of two female drinkers at a bar. (credit: Matt Cardy/Getty Images)

CBS Charlotte (con't)

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RALEIGH, NC (CBS Charlotte) – According to a recent study out of the University of Iowa, binge drinking is harmful to students’ critical-thinking skills only if a student has low critical-thinking skills to begin with.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism defines binge drinking as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams percent or above. This usually happens when men have five or more drinks, and when women have four or more drinks in a span of two hours.

Researchers collected data from over 4,100 college students attended liberal arts colleges, research universities, or regional universities between 2006 – 2010.

Chris Austin, an assistant director of health promotion at the student health center at N.C. State says he isn’t sure if binge drinking is only harmful to students with low critical-thinking skills.

“I’ve known several students that did very well in high school and came on campus and started binge drinking and had their GPAs drop off significantly,” Autstin told the Technician, the official student newspaper of N.C. State University.

Amir Rezvani, a professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University says “the reason alcohol has such a profound effect on the brain is because alcohol goes everywhere water goes and the brain contains a high amount of water.”

“The reason binge drinking is particularly harmful as opposed to drinking in lower quantitates is due to the fact that when a person binge drinks, less time is allowed for the liver to process the alcohol, and it becomes more concentrated in the blood and brain,” Rezvani said.

Rezvani doesn’t believe that someone with lower critical-thinking skills necessarily would experience more damage from binge drinking.

“Regardless of your capacity, if you drink enough, it will have an effect on your critical thinking skills,” Rezvani told the paper.

According to N.C. State, all incoming students must participate in AlcoholEdu. Austin feels the program is achieving its goals.

The average alcohol awareness test score before completing the program is 55 percent. After completing the program, the average score increases to 85 percent.

“Some people are looking for a magic bullet,” Austin explained to the student newspaper. “The purpose of this course is not to stop people from drinking, the purpose of this course is to have people reflect on their drinking behavior and if they are higher-risk drinkers, to consider being lower-risk drinkers.”

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