Alcohol Abuse and Sexual Assault: Is There a Link?

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Alcohol Abuse and Sexual Assault: Is There a Link?

Alcohol abuse is a common problem on many college campuses today, but even more frightening is the realization of just how much heavy drinking is tied to the incidence of sexual assault. A new poll from the Washington Post and the Kaiser Family Foundation showed new evidence of that link, finding that heavy drinking is a significant factor in predicting sexual assault during the college years.

Women More Likely to be Victims

Women that drink more than they should are twice as likely to be the victims of sexual assault as women who never or rarely drink, the poll found. Alcohol was also a factor for the men that were responsible for the assaults. The poll included 1,053 current and recent college students that were living on or near their college campus.

According to this survey, one in five women reported being sexually assaulted during college. More than half of those women – 14 percent – said they were assaulted while incapacitated. Most students that experienced unwanted sexual contact during this time admitted to drinking alcohol shortly before the incident, according to interviews conducted with many of the students that had responded to the poll.

Other Dangers of Alcohol Abuse

Despite the association between alcohol consumption and sexual assault, college students in the poll saw drinking alcohol as the bigger problem of the two. Nearly 40 percent of the students surveyed said that when they drink alcohol in social situations, they sometimes or often drink more than they should. Only three in 10 said that happens rarely, while another three in 10 said it never happens or they don’t drink at all.

Sexual assault is not the only danger associated with excessive drinking during the college years. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), other consequences of college drinking include:

  • Unintentional injury (affects nearly 600,000 students annually)
  • Other types of assault (occurs in around 696,000 students annually)
  • Academic problems (affects around one-fourth of all students annually)
  • Unsafe sex (occurs with approximately 400,000 students each year)
  • Drunk driving (more than 4.8 million students drive under the influence annually)
  • Death (affects around 1,825 students annually)

The College Drinking Problem

College students that drink abusively are also more likely to develop a substance abuse disorder. According to a survey by the NIAAA, 19 percent of college students met the criteria for an alcohol abuse disorder. However, only five percent of those students had sought help for their substance abused within the past year.

Drinking alcohol is not a normal rite of passage during the college years. It is a dangerous practice that can turn into a dependency within a relatively short period of time. If you or someone you know is struggling with substance abuse, help is available. Contact Visions Adolescent Treatment Centers today at 866-889-3665 to learn more about your treatment options.

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