Psychology researchers focus on consequences of binge drinking

It's a perennial issue on college campuses nationwide, one with heavy effects on the health and saefty of students: Binge drinking.

A doctoral candidate from psychology has published findings that suggest patterns of binge drinking establish the environment for dangerous situations.

The study, recently published in the journal Violence and Victims, found that first-year female college students who drank four or more alcoholic drinks in one day at the start of the study were 33 percent more likely to be victims of a sexual assault in the following months. Women who drank four alcoholic beverages during two days or more were 17 percent more likely to be sexually assaulted later. In contrast, 6 percent of the non-drinkers experienced a sexual assault during the course of the study.

"It's not just the amount you're drinking—it's the pattern," said lead author Emily Mouilso, a doctoral candidate in the psychology department in the UGA Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. "Even if the volume of alcohol is the same, when you drink it all at once, you are putting yourself at the highest risk."

Mouilso and co-author Sarah Fischer, assistant professor of psychology, gathered their data with the help of nearly 200 female participants recruited at the beginning of their first fall semester on campus. The researchers monitored drinking patterns from August through May and met with each participant three times.