Reducing Alcohol Abuse Among Students
Although alcohol abuse among college students continues to drop
to new lows, any abuse is too much and it still remains a serious
problem that requires action.
- Social Norms Marketing
- The social norms marketing approach has consistently proven
to be highly effective in reducing alcohol abuse. It is based
on the fact that college students typically over-estimate the
extent of alcohol abuse. When the actual incidence of use and
abuse is widely and intensively reported, most students promptly
modify their behavior. The technique is very inexpensive to
use and the benefits occur quickly. To learn more, visit A
Proven Way To Reduce Alcohol Abuse.
- Brief Intervention
- A second technique that has proven to be effective is known
as Brief Intervention. Although less well known than social
norms marketing, it is also very effective in reducing alcohol
abuse on college campuses and can be used along with social
norms marketing. To learn more, visit Brief
- Harm Reduction
- Harm reduction is effective in reducing the misuse of alcohol
as well as the harm that can result from misuse. It moves students,
regardless of their degree of involvement with alcohol, toward
more healthful behaviors. It can be used separately or in connection
with social norms marketing and Brief Intervention. To learn
more, visit Harm Reduction Works for Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.
What Probably Works...
- Modifying Class Schedules
- Most colleges no longer schedule classes on Saturdays and
in recent years Friday classes have almost disappeared. Similarly,
very few classes are now scheduled at 8:00 in the morning and
students complain that 9:00 classes are "too early."
Clearly, such scheduling enables students to party late without
having to face the sobering reality of early classes or even
any classes after the "party nights" of Thursday,
Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
- Requiring Attendance
- In addition to reducing alcohol abuse, requiring attendance
should also contribute to improved academic performance.
- Reducing Grade Inflation
- Grade inflation enables students to party rather than study
because it has generally become so easy to receive acceptable
grades with a minimum of time and effort.
Although not yet scientifically evaluated, all of these promising
techniques are free of expense and they would also tend to promote
improved academic performance.
What Doesn't Work...
Unfortunately, many of the popular responses to alcohol abuse
are both ineffective and expensive. They include futile efforts
to stamp out drinking by legal adults under the age of 21 through
a policy of "zero tolerance" (see Zero
Tolerance) and innumerable, sometimes draconian, measures.
Similarly, efforts to reduce or eliminate alcohol advertising,
while well-meaning, are naïve and ignore extensive world-wide
research demonstrating that alcohol advertising doesn't increase
alcohol abuse... ...it only influences market share. (see Alcohol
Scare tactics that exaggerate the dangers of alcohol consumption
continue to be popular in spite of the fact that they are clearly
ineffective and often counter productive... ... ...they do more
harm than good. They are also inconsistent with the use of social
norms marketing, which is based on eliminating distorted misperceptions.
(see Schizophrenic Campuses)
Colleges should utilize techniques that have proven effective
in reducing alcohol misuse and the problems it can cause and should
experiment with those techniques that show promise in reducing alcohol
problems. They should abandon ineffective and counter-productive
techniques, regardless of their popularity. To do otherwise is irresponsible