Colleges Not Doing Enough to Combat Student Drinking: Report

More focus urged for monitoring illegal sales of alcohol and limiting number of alcohol outlets

FRIDAY, July 23, 2010 (HealthDay News) -- U.S. colleges aren't doing enough to limit student access to alcohol, a new study contends.

College administrators do recognize that student drinking is a major problem, but they focus on individual interventions and campus-based alcohol restrictions. They need to do more work with communities to develop policies to reduce excess drinking by students, such as monitoring of illegal sales of alcohol and limiting the number of retail alcohol outlets, according to study author Toben Nelson.

Nelson, an assistant professor in the epidemiology and community health division at the University of Minnesota, and colleagues analyzed the answers given by 351 college administrators who responded to an online survey in 2008. The respondents were asked if they were following recommendations from the U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism's college drinking task force 2002 report on the best strategies for reducing student drinking.

The 2008 survey showed there was "very little action on the task force recommendations and very little implementation," Nelson said in a news release from the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research. "Very few had even had conversations in the communities."

Many of the college administrators knew about the task force recommendations, but more than 22 percent did not know about them, according to the survey.

Previous studies had shown that community-based alcohol control is effective in reducing college student drinking through policies such as monitoring of illegal sales of alcohol, limiting the number of alcohol outlets, increasing prices, and mandatory training for servers.

But Nelson and colleagues found that only one-third of college communities performed compliance checks for illegal alcohol sales, only 15 percent mandated server training, only 7 percent restricted the number of alcohol outlets, and only 2 percent raised alcohol prices.

Among the study's other findings:

  • Education about the consequences of excessive drinking was given to students at 98 percent of the colleges. The methods included lectures, meetings or workshops, poster campaigns and computer-based programs.
  • Two-thirds of colleges provided interventions for problem drinkers or those at high risk, either on campus or by paying for off-campus services.

The study findings were released online in advance of publication in the October print issue of the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research.

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more about college drinking.

SOURCE: Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, news release, July 20, 2010
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