Health24 published an article on how cheap booze encourages students to drink more. In reaction, researchers from Kent State University in the US sent us info on a recent study they conducted. These experts reckon that college students may not be getting as drunk as they think they are.
Most 1st and 2nd years drink moderately
Dr Dennis Thombs, an associate professor at the College and Graduate School of Education, said their research, conducted on Kent State students in 2002, shows that most first and second year students either avoid alcohol use, or drink sensibly.
The study was published in a recent issue (volume 64) of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol.
Misconceptions could lead to more drinking
“A lot of students think they need to keep up with their friends – and that everyone is getting hammered all the time,” said Thombs, who specialises in health promotion. This misconception could lead students to think that heavy drinking is the norm, he said.
“But we try to show them that getting wasted is somewhat unusual behaviour, and that if they choose to drink, moderate drinking is the norm on this campus,” Thombs said.
Alcohol media campaign implemented
Kent State University created an alcohol media campaign called “Thinking About Your Drinking?” based on information collected from annual campus surveys and nighttime breath testing. This information is now being used to inform students that the drinking norm at Kent State is best characterised by abstinence and sensible drinking.
For example, a poster read: “On Thursday and Friday nights, 56 percent of KSU students returning home late at night have a blood-alcohol level of less than 0,05.” A blood-alcohol level of 0,05 percent may impair some motor skills, Thombs said.
This is different from traditional anti-drinking campaigns that emphasise tragic consequences – posters of handcuffs and jail cells or car wrecks – in an effort to scare students to stop or reduce their drinking. That doesn’t work very well, according to Thombs, who said that students tend to tune out those messages, because they are not considered to be personally relevant.
Actual breath tests used
The recent Kent State study used actual breath tests to determine the blood alcohol levels of participants, and did not just rely on student-reported levels of drinking, a practice common to most other college drinking studies, Thombs said.
Researchers collected breath samples from students as they returned to their residence halls on Wednesday to Saturday nights during the Spring 2002 semester.
The results showed that on Thursdays to Saturdays, the median blood alcohol concentrations (BACs) of students were in a moderate range – with blood-alcohol levels ranging from 0,047 to 0,056 percent, depending on the night of the week. – (Health24)
Cheap beer spurs drinking