Binge drinking among Jewish and non-Jewish college students

  • Americans who frequently attend religious services have lower rates of alcohol use and misuse.
  • The same relationship has not been found among Jewish Americans.
  • Heavy drinking and alcoholism, however, are less common among Jews than Christians.
  • Religious service attendance may have different meanings across groups, and may not accurately reflect religiosity among Jews.

In the United States, religious commitment, as measured by service attendance, has an inverse relationship with alcohol consumption and alcohol problems. In other words, individuals who frequently attend religious services tend to have lower rates of alcohol use and misuse. The same association has not, however, been consistently found among Jewish Americans. A study in the December issue of Alcoholism: Clinical & Experimental Research examines the relationship between religious variables and binge drinking among Jewish and non-Jewish college students. It also examines the association between binge drinking and genetic, cultural, and religious variables in the Jewish sample alone.

"Binge drinking is a growing focus in the alcohol research literature, especially among college students," said Susan E. Luczak, assistant project scientist in the department of psychiatry at the University of California, San Diego and first author of the study. "It has been related to many negative social, academic, and physical problems. Other measures of problems, such as abuse and dependence symptoms, are also important, but less prevalent in college samples."

Luczak added that even though researchers have traditionally found a strong association between "religious service attendance" and fewer alcohol problems among Christians, heavy drinking and alcoholism are less common among Jews. "There is something about being Jewish that seems to protect people from heavy drinking and drinking problems," she said. Perhaps this 'protection' is rooted in cu


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