More Needs To Be Done To Stop Excessive College Drinking

July 29, 2010

Two men drinkingExcessive drinking has long been a problem among college students. However, although administrators are aware that student drinking is a major problem, a recent study published in Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research showed that few colleges are addressing the issue.

According to Inside Higher Ed, the new study is a follow up on the recommendations made by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) in 2002. Researchers from the University of Minnesota School of Public Health surveyed 351 4-year colleges in the United States to determine progress towards the NIAAA recommendations.

Recommendations were organized into four levels: tier 1, the most effective method, represented interventions for at-risk students; tier 2 were strategies that were effective in the general public such as restricting the number of alcohol outlets or increasing alcohol prices; tier 3 were logical and theoretical promises; and tier 4 were ineffective strategies such as widespread alcohol education.

USA Today reported that the study found colleges tend to focus on "individual intervention and campus-based alcohol restrictions", which are not the most effective methods. According to Inside Higher Ed, the lead author of the study, Toben Nelson, said that schools were not doing enough to stop student drinking: 98 percent of colleges did the bare minimum and held lectures, meetings or workshops on the consequences of excessive drinking. Researchers found that 33 percent of colleges performed age compliance checks, 15 percent enforced server training, seven percent limited alcohol outlets and liquor licenses and just two percent increased the price of alcohol. Furthermore, 22 percent of institutions did not know about the recommendations at all.

Evidence also showed that large schools--defined as schools with more than 2,500 students--were more likely to implement tier 1 and tier 2 strategies. Toben, however, pointed out that many cities were administering the procedures with little or no input from universities.

Some experts argued that the NIAAA research is out of date. James Turner, executive director of the National Social Norms Institute, noted that the NIAAA data is 12 years old and the recommendations were written eight years ago. Many feel that colleges have changed over the years and that newer methods, which the NIAAA would categorize as ineffective, have proven to be successful today.

Nonetheless, Inside Higher Ed pointed out that while policies have been successful in decreasing alcohol consumption among adolescents and young adults, in the last 30 years drinking has not declined among college students.

Compiled by CityTownInfo.com Staff


"Addressing Alcohol Abuse (or Not)," insidehighered.com, July 28, 2010, Iza Wojciechowska

"Implementation of NIAAA College Drinking Task Force Recommendations: How Are Colleges Doing 6 Years Later?" interscience.wiley.com, July 9, 2010, Toben F. Nelson et al.

"Report: Colleges don't do enough to stop student drinking," USAToday.com, July 27, 2010, Robert Preidt

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