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College binge drinking can reduced through intervention, study reveals

Brief personal intervention can significantly reduce the binge drinking among college-aged drinkers. This is according to a new study conducted by researchers from the University of Texas School of Public Health.

Motivational interviewing with feedback (MIF), the intervention program analyzed in the study, consists of a custom feedback profile and a counseling session. The personalized feedback profile was produced by the commercial tool e-CHUG and was designed to provide college students with information that would motivate them against excessive drinking. The information provided by the profile include caloric intake, expenditure on alcohol, negative consequences of excessive drinking, and local referrals.

According to lead researcher Scott Walters, the use of commercial tools like e-CHUG is a promising step towards reducing excessive drinking on campus. He noted that the tool is a big factor in providing solution to the problem, especially among high risk students.

Walters described typical binge drinking on campus as a pattern where students refrain from drinking during weekdays and proceed to drink heavily during weekends. This, he said, makes college binge drinking a lot more risky compared to adult binge drinking.

The professor also noted that peer pressure, misconception about adulthood, and the desire to belong, are the biggest motivations to why college students drink. This is congruent to what previous research studies have shown, that males, athletes, and fraternity/sorority members are more inclined to binge drink.

In the MIF intervention program, discussion of alcohol norms around campus played an important role. Walters noted that a lot of college students have wrong perception of the drinking norms in their campuses, for the most part thinking that they drink less than other students.

To address this grave misconception of campus drinking norms, students who participated in Walters’ study were made to guess how they think their drinking habits compared to their fellow students. On average, the said students guess that at least 43% of other students consume more alcohol that they did. This is figure is a large cry from the actual 17% of students who consumed more alcohol than the students involved in the study.

“It can be a real eye-opener. It just never occurred to them that their drinking was above norm,” Walters said.

A six-month follow-up study testing the MIF intervention model revealed that students who underwent the program drank 5.26 fewer alcohol drinks per week compared to the students in the control group who did not receive the intervention program. The MIF group participants also had a mean alcohol problem score which was at least 2.32 points lower than the score of the control group.

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