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Study: Binge drinking is contagious

Dec. 21, 2011 at 12:52 AM
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HALIFAX, Nova Scotia, Dec. 21 (UPI) -- Binge drinking -- especially among couples -- is as contagious as the common cold, researchers in Canada suggest.

Dr. Simon Sherry, assistant professor in the department of psychology at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, said during a 28-day time frame, researchers were able to predict one partner's binge drinking based on the other partner's.

The researchers studied 208 non-married, heterosexual dating couples in their early 20s. Each couple had to be dating for at least three months and have face-to-face contact at least five days a week, and one member of each dating couple had to be a university/college student. On average, couples were dating for close to two years, the researchers said.

"In some respect this is a cautionary piece of research. Pick your friends and lovers carefully because they influence you more than you think," Sherry said in a statement. "We're not so naive as researchers to think students are going to walk away from binge drinking. But our study shows there's a large majority of students who form romantic partnerships where alcohol is a regularly occurring theme."

Sherry said there are still many questions for which the researchers do not have answers -- including whether heavy drinkers naturally gravitate toward each other, or does each partner have a family history of alcoholism.

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