Heavy Episodic Drinking Among Post-Secondary Students

A new report from the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction addressed “Heavy Episodic Drinking Among Post-Secondary Students: Influencing Factors and Implications.”  

The purpose of this exploratory study using focus groups was to identify key factors that influence post-secondary students to drink to excess in order to fill gaps in knowledge and to help develop strategies, tools and resources to reduce its problems. 

As indicated by the authors of the report, 

“The findings [of the study] will be relevant to anyone working with post-secondary students, such as health and safety personnel, administrative and managerial staff, faculty, security personnel, coaches and club leaders, as well as to students and parents.” 

Results are reported on the following topics: 

  • Students’ perceptions and attitudes towards alcohol
  • Expectations about consuming alcohol
  • Student reasons for High Risk Drinking (HRD) and three HRD behaviors
  • Positive and negative consequences
  • Student ideas for other students and campuses 

One of the most common suggestions provided by participating students for addressing high risk drinking was to deliver prevention messages from respected peers rather than adults.  

This recommendation suggests that older students, RA’s and campus peer health and other student leaders should be trained and supervised to provide practical, evidence-based prevention programs on college and university campuses. 

A search of evidence-based alcohol prevention programs for young adults on the Blueprints for Healthy Youth Development registry found three effective alcohol programs for young adults (https://www.blueprintsprograms.org/search-results). 

These included: 

  1. Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS): A brief motivational intervention for high-risk college students that uses alcohol screening and feedback to reduce problem drinking, excessive drinking, and binge drinking by enhancing motivation to change, promoting healthier choices, reviewing myths and facts about alcohol, and teaching coping skills to moderate drinking. 
  1. Communities That Care: A prevention system designed to reduce levels of adolescent delinquency and substance use through the selection and use of effective preventive interventions tailored to a community's specific profile of risk and protection. 
  1. InShape Prevention Plus Wellness: A brief prevention program to improve physical, mental and spiritual well-being of college students, ages 18-21, by connecting positive health habits and images with avoiding risky alcohol, tobacco, marijuana and other drug use. 

Since BASICS consists of just two sessions, and InShape Prevention Plus Wellness (PPW) just one session, these two programs would appear to be the most feasible for peers to be trained to implement on campuses. 

These two evidence-based programs differ however. 

BASICS aims to reduce high-risk drinking among heavy-drinking college students, while SPORT PPW is a universal substance use prevention program that also promotes physical activity, healthy nutrition, sleep and stress control for students. 

One comprehensive strategy would be to train campus peer leaders, along with their adult mentors and other prevention and health professionals to provide both the BASICS and InShape Prevention Plus Wellness programs in various settings and situations for the purposes of preventing alcohol and other substance use, but also promoting resilient, healthy lifestyles among all post-secondary students. 

Read more about InShape Prevention Plus Wellness: https://preventionpluswellness.com/products/is-inshape-for-young-adults-program

Read more about BASICS: http://depts.washington.edu/abrc/basics.htm 

Please like and share this information with others in your region and state.  Thank you. 

Read the new report on high risk drinking among post-secondary students:



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