Preventing Alcohol Abuse in College Students

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) offers a lot of insight into why people drink, how it becomes a problem and how to combat the problem. For the issue of college binge drinking, the NIAAA suggests normative re-education or social norms marketing to get a hold of the situation. Normative re-education means that you go in, teach students what normal and responsible drinking habits are, and then allow the chain action to the result which will lead to an overall decrease in excessive underage drinking.

Social Norms Marketing at Work

The article outlines several trials in which normative reeducation was attempted. In those 22 random trials, 7,275 participants were tested using web/computer feedback, individual face-to-face feedback, group face-to-face feedback, and mailed feedback about social marketing campaigns. The web/computer feedback consisted of online surveys and similar online feedback. The individual feedback was one on one surveys and the group feedback consisted of groups of people coming together to talk about the results. Mail-in feedback was paper surveys.

The campaign showed alcohol problems, peak BACS, frequency of drinking, quantity of drinking and binge drinking. From the trial results, it was shown that the web/computer feedback showed significant reductions in excessive drinking for 16 months after the trial. The individual sessions resulted in a decrease of drinking at the six-month check in, and the group sessions produced a decrease that lasted for three months. Mailed-in feedback generated no results.

Another social solution would be for parents to educate their children about the issues of drinking.

Parental Involvement with Underage Drinking

NIAAA reported on an experiment they tried to get parents more involved in the education of their children. This trial created a 45-page handbook that taught parents how to have discussions about alcohol use with their children. This handbook outlines university alcohol policies and consequences of any sort of violation. Three hundred and forty-seven parents were included in the intervention group. Seventy-two percent of that group evaluated the handbook and 83% reported reading most or all of the handbook. The results of the study said the students of parents who had read the handbook and had abstained from drinking prior to college were less likely to start drinking, and those who had engaged in drinking were less likely to increase their alcohol use during freshman year, although the second statistic was for females, not males. Overall the results indicated that parental involvement will help decrease alcohol abuse in college students.

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