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Does College Turn Women Into Drunks?

New York Magazine reports a recent study shows alcohol consumption is up — way, way up — in women. Dr. Richard Grucza, an epidemiologist and professor at Washington University School of Medicine, compared studies conducted in 1991 to 1992 and in 2001 to 2002 to see how same-age groups responded to questions about alcohol consumption a decade later. He discovered that though “the American attraction to alcohol is growing more potent,” the increase in alcohol consumption is primarily in women, and among them there’s an increase in dependence, too. Grucza explains this increase in alcohol consumption began around the middle of the last century, coinciding with Second Wave feminism. “As women ‘immigrated’ into the culture that was once unique to men,” says Grucza, “they picked up a lot of the same mores and attitudes and behaviors and ideas about what is socially acceptable that men had previously held.” And the place where women are picking up these attitudes and behaviors the most? College.The rate of frequent binge drinking increased by 124 percent between 1993 and 2001 at all-female colleges, so it shouldn’t come as surprise that 55 percent of college students who meet the clinical criteria for alcohol abuse are female. Women start drinking in college, and they don’t stop. “College campuses are the place where drinking norms are set for educated individuals,” says Jon Morgenstern, a professor of psychiatry and vice-president at the National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse. “The rate of drinking is astronomical. College is really a training ground for becoming an alcoholic.” So why do you think women are drinking more than ever these days? Could feminism be to blame for increased alcohol consumption? Why do you drink? [NYMag]

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