Though some Ohio State students said a culture of excessive drinking at college sometimes seems to be a given, a recent study found colleges could help students reduce risky drinking habits by intervening early.
The study from researchers at Brown University and the Miriam Hospital in Providence, R.I., analyzed the effectiveness of interventions to prevent alcohol misuse by first-year college students. Its findings led researchers to recommend colleges to “screen all freshmen within their first few weeks for alcohol risk and offer effective combinations of interventions for those who report drinking,” according to a release from Brown about the study.
The researchers recommended colleges take a course of action including personalized feedback, moderation strategies, like alternating alcoholic beverages with nonalcoholic ones, identification of risky situations and goal-setting, such as setting limits on blood alcohol level, for those students in need of interventions, according to the release.
Some students said drinking is a part of college life that can sometimes pull people in too far.
“The ‘work hard, play hard’ culture of this university lends itself to a rather vicious nightlife to those who are malleable,” said Dylan Dunn, a second-year in philosophy.
Svetlana Kravtsova, a second-year in neuroscience, agreed.
“I feel like if you don’t drink, you just kind of feel left out,” Kravtsova said. “So (other students) just join in.”
Dunn said drinking can also make some students feel more social.
“From personal experience, a lot of freshmen come into college without much self-control when it comes to alcohol,” Dunn said. “They make mistakes, yet still feel obligated or motivated to be social.”
Dunn said, though, it’s wrong for anyone to assume he or she needs to drink to be able to hang out with his or her friends.
“While social interaction is a key part of college, irresponsible alcohol consumption is not,” Dunn said.
Amanda Blake, program coordinator for Alcohol, Tobacco & Other Drug Education and Prevention at Ohio State’s Student Wellness Center, said there are several programs at OSU that offer students help if they feel they need it.
“Our programs offer students assistance, assessment and education, referrals and support,” Blake said. “We offer programming ranging from primary prevention all the way through recovery.”
Blake specifically recommended the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students program, also known as BASICS.
“BASICS provides personalized feedback and alcohol education to students in a one-on-one setting,” Blake said.
According to the Wellness Center’s website, the goal of BASICS is to “reduce risky behaviors and harmful consequences of alcohol abuse.”
Blake said she believes the Wellness Center’s programs are helpful.
“We are confident that our current programs are effective,” Blake said. “We continually conduct assessments and evaluations to help us define the program and determine if individual programs … are successful in decreasing alcohol use and abuse.”
Haley Schuster, a third-year in special education and a member of the OSU Collegiate Recovery Community, said she is happy she made the choice of going to a recovery community when she realized she was struggling with drugs and alcohol abuse.
“I have struggled with drugs and alcohol abuse in the past, and I had gotten connected with some people actually in recovery that got me connected with (someone in charge of the Collegiate Recovery Community),” Schuster said. “I had some other friends that were getting involved with it, so I decided to give it a shot and I really enjoy it.”
Some students, however, said they would first go to their friend directly if a friend had an alcohol-related issues.
“First, I would do as much as I could … to help them,” said Jackie Chang, a first-year in chemistry. “If they can’t listen to us after a good amount of months, like two or three, four, I would say go for a professional help, but other than that, I think we (would) handle (it within the) friend group first.”
Schuster said she thinks the effectiveness of an intervention depends on a student’s will to get past their issues.
“The problem with anything is that students have to be willing to go,” Schuster said. “And most students just don’t care.”
Schuster also said many college students don’t consider drinking issues to be a serious problem.
“I think a lot of students have the idea that we’re just young and everyone else drinks, or things like that,” Schuster said. “They don’t understand the severity or the problems that can come out of alcohol. I think a lot of people are not ready to stop or see that alcohol could be getting in the way of things or that their time to stop drinking hasn’t come yet.”
Chang said she believes the excess drinking in college some students participate in might be caused by the drinking age, which is set at 21.
“My parents are from Taiwan. I am legal to drink over there, so if you are legal to drink, then it’s not as big as of a temptation or as big as a thing you want to do just because it’s illegal,” Chang, 18, said.
The drinking age in Taiwan is 18.
Schuster said there is a belief in the college culture that excessively consuming alcohol is normal.
“There is definitely a stigma when it comes to drinking in college, especially with tailgating before football games, college parties, all of the bars around campus. It just seems like it is everywhere,” Schuster said. “Now they even advertise Natural Ice Beer on the side of the University Village bus on campus. It is just something that we do as a culture, and I think a lot of (students) think it’s the norm.”