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A four-year study of 200 college students found that those who drink heavily and started drinking at an early age demonstrate poor decision-making skills, just like long-term, chronic alcoholics. Researchers at the University of Missouri-Columbia believe early onset binge drinking negatively affects psychological development.

The researches examined college students between the ages of 18 and 22. After three years, they tested them using the Iowa Gambling Test, which measures the tendency to make immediate (disadvantageous) or long-term (advantageous) choices.

Based on the students' reported drinking habits, they were grouped into four categories: low binge drinkers, stable/moderate binge drinkers, increasing binge drinkers and stable/high binge drinkers.

Poor Planning Skills

"Students in the stable/high alcohol use category, who had longer histories of binge drinking, made riskier and less advantageous choices, which reflect problems associated with planning for the future," the researchers reported.

The study also found that only students who started binge drinking when they were younger showed impairment on the task.

"There is reason to think that heavy binge drinking during adolescence, when the brain is still rapidly developing, may have some negative legacy on psychological development," said Kenneth J. Sher of MU's Midwest Alcoholism Research Center in a news release. "The interesting thing is that if we were to just look at binge drinkers and how impaired they are in the decision making process as juniors, we'd really be obscuring the important issue, which is how long they've been binge drinkers and/or how early they started."

More About Binge Drinking:

Source: Goudriaan, Anna E., et. al. "Decision Making and Binge Drinking: A Longitudinal Study" Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research. June 2007.

Photo: Clipart.com

October 14, 2012 at 7:21 am
(1) Ally says:

It’s possible that the link between early drinking and poor decision making is in fact a reflection of character. Those who were prone to making bad decisions made the bad decision to begin drinking so young because of this existing character flaw. Thus the poor decision making causing the alcohol consumption rather than the reverse. In which case all subsequent poor decisions were merely encouraged by alcohol, the existing character flaw the cause.

January 21, 2013 at 4:48 pm
(2) anon says:

adolescence? 18-22? this is a very misleading article..people who are going to binge drink are people who don’t really care about the future..

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