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The costs of college binge drinking

Dude, where's the emergency room?

A new study published in Health Affairs shows that 80 percent of college students consume alcohol, and half of those acknowledge having had at least one drinking-related blackout. Researchers at University of Wisconsin-Madison followed nearly a thousand participants from five schools, using hospital visits to measure the degree and frequency of college binge drinking, and as reported by Shots:

About one-third of the students ended up in the emergency room at least once during the two-year study. Not all their injuries were drinking-related, but the students who said they had had blackouts were more likely to end up at the hospital. Injuries included cuts, broken bones and head injuries.

Besides putting their health at risk, college students who binge drink and black out are spiking the cost of cleaning up after the party. The study concludes:

We calculate that on a large university campus having more than 40,000 students, blackout-associated emergency department visit costs would range from $469,000 to $546,000 per year. We conclude that blackouts are a strong predictor of emergency department visits for college drinkers and that prevention efforts aimed at students with a history of blackouts might reduce injuries and emergency department costs.

Previously: Study estimates hospitalizations for underage drinking cost $755 million per year, CDC binge-drinking study demonstrates cell phones’ value in research, Using Facebook to assess alcohol-related problems among college students and Fighting binge drinking on campus
Photo by FlackJacket2010

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