With the recent confirmation that Amy Winehouse’s death was alcohol-related , the spotlight on binge drinking, particularly in women, has become brighter.
Winehouse, the Grammy-winning artist known for the song “Rehab,” was confirmed to have died of accidental alcohol poisoning due to voluntarily binge drinking vodka. Winehouse died on July 23, 2011 in London.
She and many others in the celebrity spotlight, like the cast of “Jersey Shore,” often are associated with drinking and bring about the question of the media’s role in students — especially women — drinking in excess.
Freshman Tyler Drago said that there is definitely media pressure to participate in high-risk drinking because television is always broadcasting it.
For women in particular, Drago (freshman-finance) said there is a lot of peer pressure involved in binge drinking.
“[Women] feel like they’re trying to appeal to guys [when binge drinking],” he said.
Ashley Farnesi agreed that women may feel pressure to compete with men when drinking.
“They want to try to keep up with the guys,” Farnesi (freshman-actuarial science) said.
For women, binge drinking is defined as consuming four or more drinks on one occasion.
According to the Center for Disease Control, more than 14 million women are binge drinking at least three times a month and averaging six drinks per instance. According to the CDC’s website, “about one in eight adult women and one in five high school girls binge drink.”
In recent years, Student Affairs Research and Assessment at Penn State conducted a study about students and drinking. Conducted in spring 2011, it found that the amount of women binge drinking in 2011 had decreased compared to years prior.
Though as of two years ago drinking trends had decreased for women, the gap between binge drinking for men and women is narrowing, said Linda Lasalle, associate director of educational services for University Health Services, in reference to a study conducted by Monitoring the Future.
“We’re concerned about the high risk drinking among women at Penn State because men and women process alcohol differently,” she said. “Women have less of an enzyme that breaks down alcohol [causing them to] get drunk faster and stay drunk longer.”
Lasalle said this makes women potentially more vulnerable to being sexually assaulted and having other complications.
Binge drinking can lead to unwanted sexually transmitted diseases and unintended pregnancy as well, according to the CDC. It also found that partaking in the high-risk consumption of alcohol can increase the chance of breast cancer and heart disease.
Though some may be less likely to drink knowing these potential concerns, the CDC reported that women, especially high school-aged and young women, are still partaking in the behavior.
For students who feel they might have a problem with alcohol abuse, Penn State has a program for them to get help, Lasalle said.
Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students — better known as BASICS — consists of two, one-hour sessions. It takes a “harm reduction approach” and helps students “develop strategies and techniques” to help with alcohol-related abuse, she said.
For anyone who voluntarily comes to receive help as opposed to being mandated because of an alcohol-related charge, treatment comes at no cost, Lasalle said.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.