Alcohol 101 Available Online

Preventing college students from binging

(RxWiki News) For some, college is a time to explore which may lead students to drink too much. The consequences that follow could be disastrous and an online class might help prevent those behaviors.

According to the director of the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse, Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., there are almost 2,000 deaths each year from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, 696,000 students assaulted by another student who is drunk and 97,000 students who fall victim to alcohol-related sexual assault or rape. Researchers found a way to help minimize these incidents with an online course.

"Don't fall into peer pressure - drink responsibly."

Lead author, Mallie J. Paschall, Ph.D., from the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Berkeley, California, and colleagues tested how effective the Internet-based alcohol misuse prevention class is. The course is known as AlcoholEdu.

AlcoholEdu consists of five sections. The first four sections are taken late in summer and the last unit should be completed by early fall semester. AlcoholEdu teaches students the definition of a standard drink, the effects alcohol has on the body, social influences on alcohol use and laws that pertain to alcohol. The online course also provides feedback to help correct possible misperceptions of college drinking norms and strategies to reduce alcohol harm.

The study included 30 public and private universities in the United States. Half of the students were required to take the online course while the other half received normal alcohol prevention programs that those schools gave to their incoming freshman.

There were on average 90 students from each campus that participated. The researchers measured participants past 30 day alcohol use, average number of drinks per occasion and binge drinking frequency.

Paschall and team found the online program was able to lower the amount of alcohol used and number of times participants binged. This finding was only found in the fall semester and did not continue into the following, spring semester.

The online course can be beneficial but other measures need to be taken to reinforce the lesson AlcoholEdu provides, Paschall says. Environmental prevention strategies that could help reinforce AlcoholEdu include reducing alcohol availability, raising prices and limiting advertisement and promotions around campus, he adds.

The randomized study is published in the September 2011 issue of the American Journal of Preventative Medicine.

Review Date: 
September 7, 2011