The college experience and drinking seems to go hand in hand for some students. Whether it is an attempt to burn off stress or to fit in with their peers, too many underage college students engage in drinking on a regular basis.
According to a recent Science Daily piece, the amount of alcohol a student drinks can depend greatly on the amount they believe that other students drink. A new systematic review suggests that students drink a certain amount of alcohol because they think they need to in order to keep up with their peers. When they learn that their perception was actually wrong, some are opting to cut back on their intake.
Based in the European Union, reviewers evaluated 22 studies that involved 7,275 university and college students. All but one of the studies took place in the United States, yet alcohol is considered to be a serious problem in the European Union.
“In the UK, young people are drinking earlier and heavier than ever before,” said co-author David Foxcroft of Oxford Brookes University, in Science Daily.. “Levels of alcohol consumption amongst 11- to 13 year-olds have almost doubled in the last 10 years or so.”
The reviewers reported that university students tend to drink excessively and much of this excess is the result of perception. However, these perceptions are incorrect perceptions as identified in intervention or control groups. In these groups, students received personalized feedback about actual college students’ normal drinking habits, their own personal drinking profiles and the health risk factors involved in heavy drinking.
When students received this information via the Web, 62 experienced a reduction in their alcohol-related problems, peak blood-alcohol content and drinking quantity and 65 percent reduced their drinking frequency. Face-to-face interventions led students to drink less often.
Those interventions that were conducted through mail or group feedback did not show any changes in drinking habits. “There were only a small number of good quality studies that we could draw on to make this somewhat tentative conclusion,” said Foxcroft. “More research is definitely needed, especially in different settings. We don’t know, for example, how well Web feedback would work in the UK, where the drinking context and culture is quite different.”