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Memory blackouts caused by drinking lead to future alcohol-related injuries

By Join Together Staff

A new study suggests that the more alcohol-related memory blackouts a college student has, the greater the risk he or she has of future accidental injuries related to drinking. The study of 796 undergraduate and 158 graduate students at four U.S. universities and one Canadian university found that over a two-year period, hazardous drinking was widespread.

HealthDay reports that more than half of the students had at least one memory blackout in the year before the study began, while 7 percent said they had at least six blackouts. The study defined memory blackouts as the inability to recall events, not a loss of consciousness as a result of drinking too much.

Overall, the students' alcohol-related injury rate was 25 percent, with no difference between men and women. The more drinking-related blackouts a student had, the greater their risk of having a future alcohol-related injury. One or two memory blackouts increased a student's risk of alcohol-related injury by 57 percent. Those who experienced at least six blackouts were almost three times as likely to have a future alcohol-related injury, the researchers reported in the journal Injury Prevention.

"Our results suggest that memory blackout screening at student health services could be a useful tool in college alcohol-related injury prevention," the researchers wrote in a journal news release.

According to the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 599,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol each year.