College students respond best to anti-heavy drinking campaigns that focus on things such as the positive health outcomes associated with lowering alcohol intake, a team of American researchers report in a new study.
More than 80 percent of college students use alcohol, and many of them don’t need much of a special reason to reach for a drink, but sometimes life provides them with one. Across the country, students on many college campuses celebrate special traditions — sometimes passed down for decades — that involve more chances for drinking than the usual weekend partying.
Heavy drinking is a problem for a number of reasons. It can lead to alcohol poisoning, intoxication, bad decisions, accidents and even addiction and health problems. Binge drinking is defined as more than four drinks at one sitting for a woman and more than five for a man. This kind of drinking is particularly prevalent among young people. Statistics show that 80 percent of college students drink and that half of them binge drink. The traditional approach to dealing with problem drinking is to commit to a 12-step program and to abstain from alcohol forever. For young people, this may be too big a challenge, and some experts think they have a viable alternative.
Significant numbers of young women in the U.S. are affected by problematic drinking behaviors and/or the symptoms of an eating disorder. In some cases, affected women may initially fall into their eating and alcohol-related behaviors as part of a conscious or unconscious attempt to cope with various forms of stress. In a study published in May 2014 in Addictive Behaviors, researchers from Auburn University explored the potential connection between alcohol problems and eating disorders in young women and the presence of similar issues in their parents. These researchers also explored the more general influence of a dysfunctional family environment on young women’s drinking and eating behaviors.
Alcohol consumption is substantially more popular among young adults who attend college than among other people in the same age range who don’t attend college. Some of the campaigns designed to curb drinking on college campuses rely on an intervention technique called personalized normative feedback, which uses comparisons with the drinking behaviors of peers to dispel drinking myths and lower alcohol consumption rates. In a study published in June 2014 in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, a team of U.S. researchers sought to determine if participation in personalized normative feedback can inadvertently cause a college student who drinks below peer average to increase his or her alcohol intake.
Research has shown that an approach called brief alcohol intervention can help significantly reduce the amount of alcohol that college students consume, and thereby decrease the risks for a range of harmful drinking consequences. In addition, research has shown that interventions provided remotely via the Internet have a beneficial impact similar to interventions provided in person. In a study published in July 2014 in the journal Addiction Science & Clinical Practice, a team of Swedish researchers assessed the effectiveness of brief alcohol interventions delivered through downloadable apps on smartphones.
Since the advent of Facebook, Twitter and other social media tools, many teenagers and adults spend considerable amounts of time using these outlets to self-report on their whereabouts, beliefs and behaviors. In a substantial number of instances, these self-reports include statements about potentially damaging patterns of alcohol consumption. In a study published in May 2014 in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs, researchers from several U.S. universities assessed the connection between alcohol-related statements on Facebook and real-world drinking behaviors in a group of college-age adults. These researchers also explored the underlying motivations for alcohol consumption among young adults who post on Facebook.
Binge drinking at college is just a stereotype perpetuated by the media, right? Not according to statistics.
College-age teenagers with sexual assault victimization histories appear to be at unusually high risk for developing drinking problems. In a study published in December 2013 in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, researchers from the State University of New York at Buffalo explored the connection between sexual assault and problem drinking in incoming college freshmen. These researchers found that freshmen with a recent history of assault victimization, in particular, have heightened risks for serious alcohol-related issues.
At least 50 percent of all students enrolled in a U.S. college or university participate in binge drinking or some other form of seriously risky alcohol consumption. As a rule, drinking is so common in college environments because the social norms established by students make alcohol intake an acceptable activity. In a study published in December 2013 in the journal Psychology of Addictive Behaviors, researchers from the University of Washington sought to determine exactly which types of social relationships have the strongest impact on producing pro-drinking norms among college students.