November 20, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 46  

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Binge drinking explodes in popularity as E use falls

By Karla Courtney
Gazette Staff

Results from a recent study confirm something many Western students may already realize — more students are binge drinking.

A report by the Centre for Addiction and Mental Heath Ontario provides an analysis of drug use among students between Grades 7 and 12. Over 6,660 students were surveyed and the study’s results show that within the last 10 years, the number of binge drinkers has increased from 15 to 25 per cent. Students admitting to taking ecstasy, however, decreased from six per cent in 2001 to 4.1 per cent today.

One of the questions experts are now considering is why ecstasy use is becoming less popular and why binge drinking is on the rise.

“They don’t know the cause, but information on risks involved with ecstasy have gotten out and students are finding other alternatives,” explained Western psychiatry and psychology professor David Wolfe, who is also academic director for the Centre of Research on Violence Against Women and Children at Western. “But binge drinking is not a smarter choice. [It] has always been the biggest problem,” he stated.

Wolfe noted that alcohol can cause both short and long term health problems, and although no one can say exactly why it is so often abused, alcohol is clearly an easier alternative.

When told about the study, Western students held similar opinions.
“Alcohol is definitely the drug of choice. If you look at [ecstasy] versus weed or alcohol, just look at the effects — apparently there are over 2,000 kinds of ecstasy and you never know what you are going to get,” said third-year social science student Stephen Cole.

“It’s more culturally acceptable to drink and it’s a big aspect of rez life,” said first-year health sciences student Tanya Sehgal. “You don’t have your parents with you. It’s another abuse of freedom.”



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