An online course that demonstrates the consequences of excessive drinking appears to significantly reduce the most common types of alcohol-related problems among freshman, including binge drinking and sexual assault. The program, called AlcoholEdu for College, has students imagine themselves in real-life situations, such as being with a friend who drinks too much and goes wild, and asks them what they would do.
The Boston Globe reports a study of 30 campuses, half of which implemented the program, found AlcoholEdu also reduced the risk of students getting into trouble with authorities. The program benefits tended to last a semester, the researchers report in the Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs.
The study found AlcoholEdu did not decrease aggression, episodes of driving under the influence or academic problems. It was most effective on campuses that required it for all new students.
The appeal of AlcoholEdu is its simplicity, the article notes. Other programs that have been shown to be successful in reducing college drinking often require major resources. AlcoholEdu takes three hours to complete. Some students take the course before arriving on campus. It includes surveys about drinking habits, streaming video, quizzes and facts about drinking. Some schools had already instituted the program before the study was completed.
Close to 40 percent of college students in the United States engage in binge drinking, and that number has remained virtually unchanged for decades. Almost 2,000 college students in the U.S. die each year from alcohol-related injuries. An estimated 600,000 students are injured while under the influence, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism.