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:
Excessive Drinking Leads to Most Alcohol-Related Problems
- Binge Drinkers Have Highest Risk of Injury
- Binge Drinking Dangers
- Is Your Drinking a Problem?