November 27, 2003  
Volume 97, Issue 50  

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Drunken stupidity: students don't know how to count beers

By Eric Johanssen
Gazette Staff

Dave Picard/Gazette
NOW THAT’S HOW MUCH I THOUGHT I HAD LAST NIGHT... A new study about alcohol studies suggests students aren’t reliable in reporting how much they drink.

Note to frosh: be careful next time you return home from the bar, puke behind the bike racks at Saugeen and tell your residence advisor you only had four drinks — you’re not fooling anyone.

A report authored by Aaron White, assistant professor of psychiatry at Duke University Medical Center, called into question a number of major studies on student alcohol use. White’s study found most students over-poured their shots by 26 per cent, beer by 25 per cent and mixed drinks by 80 per cent. When compared to government standards, the report suggested the problem of alcohol use among students was much worse than researchers had realized.

According to White, the primary problem lies in the fact that there is no definition for what exactly constitutes a drink; students who think they are consuming five or six drinks may actually be consuming as many as nine or 10. “Students haven’t been taught what the government means by a drink,” he said. “Their definition is different.”

A number of students spending yesterday afternoon at The Spoke had different ideas of what represented a drink. Nick D’Andrea, a third-year geography student, said he consumes about four to five pints of beer a week, noting that he considers one pint to be one drink.

Fifth-year administrative and commercial studies student and Spoke bartender, Joel Mernick, also said he believes that one pint constitutes one drink, noting he enjoys “about eight” frosty beverages a week. Third-year philosophy student Jeremy Douglas disagreed: “One beer equals one bottle,” he said.

White said part of the problem is that many people free-pour drinks; the bigger the glass is, the more alcohol students are likely to pour, adding females are more likely to free-pour drinks than males, as well as not eat before drinking.

“Our program should focus on responsible drinking, rather than opposing drinking [completely],” said Adrienne Kennedy, VP-campus issues for the University Students’ Council. Kennedy said a program as simple as a presentation in the University Community Centre showing accurate proportions for an acceptable drink could be a good solution.

“We need to agree on a serving size [for] alcohol; if we don’t, we’re sort of wasting our time [with the studies],” White said, comparing alcohol to other drugs. “You don’t just take [a bunch of] Valium without knowing the dosage.”

White said he believes bottles of alcohol should include the number of “servings” they contain on their labelling, adding such a process is in place and working well in Australia.



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