College Students and Alcohol Use essay

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Psychosocial factors, such as depression, anxiety and social support, also induce drinking. This study confirmed that social cognitive factors drove college students to report on their own drinking. Psychosocial motives drove them to do so only at 1%. Social support was the only significant psychosocial predictor. The awareness of both the positive and negative consequences of drinking was quite likely behind the willingness of college students to report on their own drinking. This implied that drinking was a deliberate and conscious decision on their part. Heavy drinkers viewed their drinking as something negative in that they perceived themselves as having reduced control over it. Peer norms were also found to be an important predictor of drinking as a perceived norm and behavior, which supports drinking. Parental drinking norms also surfaced, although not as strong as the preceding predictors (Kuther & Temoshin).

Environmental Policies

Many new studies attempted to determine if the preponderance of alcohol establishments enticed more drinking among college students but produced mixed results (Trommey et al., 2007). Three subsequent studies on college campuses provided the evidence that alcohol consumption and drinking-related problems increased where alcohol establishments teemed. These recent studies also showed that licensed establishments and community festivals commonly sold alcohol even when it was illegal. Training alcohol servers and managers to reduce the sale may be advantageous but required further investigation. Six studies concluded that increasing alcohol prices or taxes could discourage sales and decrease risky alcohol use and related problems. Another policy was banning alcohol use in college residences or at campus. Bans resulted in lower levels of consumption and alcohol-related problems. Finally, more recent studies found that multi-strategy approaches could be effective (Trommey, et al.).

A 2002 four-year survey of 747 residential colleges and universities throughout the U.S. conducted a social norms campaign (Trommey et al., 2007). Three recent surveys showed that the campaigns reduced students' misperceptions on peer alcohol use and, as a result, reduced alcohol use by students. Ensuing studies produced conflicting findings. One more recent study suggested that the problem was in the construction of the message and the presentation of the advertisements. Students liked the advertisement but the main message of the campaign did not seem to have adequately communicated it. Meanwhile, a national study evaluated changes in misperceptions on peer alcohol use and alcohol use at 37 colleges, which conducted social-norms campaigns between 1997 and 2001. The results were compared with those, which did not implement campaigns. The study found no decreases on drinking rates but increases in two of the five drinking policies. No changes in drinking rates were recorded. Environmental strategies have been recommended but received little or no evaluation. These have proved difficult to implement, have not been studied or subjected to publication bias (Trommey, et al.).

School Leaders Drink More

Over-active student leaders tended to drink thrice as much as other students and twice the national average (Spratt and Turrentine, 2001). This was the result of a random survey of 2,000 students drawn from the Core Survey national data. The respondents were 62% female and 50% non-White from minority and religious sectors. The result indicated that school leadership was a risk factor for alcohol use. The more positions a school leader occupied, the more she indulged in alcohol. In 1990, college presidents reported alcohol abuse as a nagging and grave concern for them. Almost two decades today, the problem persists as the most serious in colleges and universities (Spratt & Turrentine).

This random study targeted groups, which were perceived to use alcohol less than the average college students (Spratt & Turrentine, 2001). The prevailing assumption at the time of the study was that leaders in these groups would use alcohol less than non-leaders. Leaders would be chosen because they represented the groups' values against alcohol use. Researchers furthermore assumed that a leader with multiple positions or responsibilities would drink the least. The assumption was proved in the case of a leader who occupied only one position but proved false in a leader with two positions. When she occupied more positions, she drank all the more than the average student (Spratt & Turrentine).

Comparative figures on the average drinks per week for both high-use and low-use organizations showed that leaders drank more than members (Spratt & Turrentine, 2001). The striking differences in alcohol use between leaders and members appeared unexpectedly among low-use organizations. The leaders' average alcohol consumption per week was higher among those who occupied multiple positions than that of athletic and sorority leaders. Only fraternity members and leaders drank more in an average week than female student leaders belonging to surveyed religious and minority organizations (Spratt & Turrentine).

One explanation to the differences was that some students became leaders, not because they embodied the group's ideals, but because they sought the leadership role itself (Spratt & Turrentine, 2001). This made leadership a risk factor to alcohol use. The leader factor, even among low-use organizations, pushed student leaders towards higher rates of drinking. Another explanation was their internalizing cultural norms and moral values. Imbibing some personality attributes in leadership could make some student leaders more vulnerable to higher alcohol use. Researchers found that frequent drinkers were likelier than non-drinkers to be extroverted, social and entertainment-inclined. Student leaders who occupied multiple positions were likelier to adopt this disposition to adjust to personal interactions, which characterized leadership (Spratt & Turrentine).

The influence of other student leaders could explain this finding (Spratt & Turrentine, 2001). Leaders from these low-use organizations tended to absorb the wider culture of leaders who drank heavily in order to fit into that culture. Student leaders with multiple positions found more occasions to drink than those who occupied only one position of leadership. The interaction between the first two effects could further clarify the finding. The person-environment theory views behavior as the interaction between the person and the environment. To a student who occupies many leadership positions, alcohol use is the behavior, while the extroverted, social personality is the personal factor and the leader culture is the environment. Student leaders in low-use organizations could be at risk for high rates of alcohol use as a result of the merging of their social orientation with the wider culture of leadership. Those who occupy multiple positions were likelier to become extroverted and socially oriented, personality traits of those who drink frequently. At the same time, they had the greatest opportunity to interact with other student leaders of high-use organizations. These students would be at the highest risk of alcohol use (Spratt & Turrentine).

The Effect of Protective Behavioral Strategies on Alcohol Use

It is common knowledge that heavy drinking produces negative consequences.

College students know that it leads to absences, legal problems, injuries or death

(Martens, Ferrier & Cimini, 2007). Oftentimes, these negative consequences affect even un-involved innocent persons. Using two models, researchers tested if the introduction of protective behavioral strategies or PBS would reduce alcohol use. Results showed that those who would consume alcohol for positively reinforcing reasons engaged in fewer PBS. The strategies were associated with higher consumption of alcohol and more frequent alcohol-related problems (Martens et al., 2007).

The results sustained the argument that PBS would rouse alcohol use only for positive motives (Martens et al., 2007). They are consistent with the principles of basic operant conditioning and related theories of motivation. Those with strong motivations to drink would not tend to engage in strategies, which would reduce the chances of experiencing pleasant outcomes. The results also suggested the possibility of intervening processes occurring between motivation and actual consumption, which could either incline or disincline one to drink. But these processes appeared to affect only positively reinforcing drinking motives (Martens, et al.).

Binge drinking is connoted as self-destructive, intentional and unrestrained drinking for at least two days (Hanson, 2007). The drinker becomes so intoxicated that he must stop regular activities, ignore responsibilities, squander money and engage in harmful behaviors, like fights and risky sex. Prolonged use and the giving up of usual activities, which comprise the purview of clinical binge drinking (Hanson).

Within the context of college life, heavy episodic or binge drinking has been a major concern (Weitzman & Nelson, 2004). Although the heaviest drinkers in campus were at the greatest risk for harm, they were generally few and incurred only small amounts of harm associated with alcohol. Lower-level drinkers in college were, however, not to be dismissed as incurring zero level of the harm because they were numerous and accounted for most of alcohol-related harms. Analyses of national survey data showed that the greatest level of harm reported by college student drinkers was at the non-extreme levels. These are drinkers erroneously believed to be less than high-risk. Harms increase with consumption, but most drinkers did not consume extreme amounts of alcohol. The greatest risk of drinking-related harms was found among low-to-moderate drinking multiplied by the huge number of non-extreme drinkers. The national data…[continue]

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