50-Minute Class Lessens Binge Drinking in Fraternity Members

Alcohol consumption is especially high among college students, and even higher among students who pledge to a fraternity or sorority. Binge drinking is a significant problem on college campuses and can lead to dangerously high blood-alcohol levels, serious health complications, and even death. Administrators have tried to raise awareness about the dangers of alcohol consumption for decades, but the rates of college students who engage in binge drinking remain consistent. In elementary school and high school, though, a new intervention designed to address beliefs about alcohol consumption has begun to show promise.

The Expectancy Challenge Alcohol Literacy Curriculum (ECALC) is a 50-minute group class that targets people’s expectations about alcohol consumption. ECALC has been tested in elementary and high schools and has been shown to have positive effects on potential alcohol use. Based on this evidence, Michael E. Dunn of the University of Central Florida’s Department of Psychology recently administered ECALC to a group of fraternity members to see if it could have the same effect. In his study, Dunn assigned 250 students to either ECALC or a control session and measured their alcohol expectancies, alcohol use, and binge drinking for four weeks before and after the intervention.

Dunn found that ECALC was highly effective at reducing alcohol consumption. This was demonstrated by decreases in drinking days, binge drinking, number of drinks consumed, and blood-alcohol levels in the ECALC group compared to the control participants. Although the results of this study are promising and provide hope toward reducing the problem of dangerous alcohol consumption on college campuses, they should be considered in light of some limitations. First, the follow-up period was minimal and does not gauge alcohol consumption over the course of a college year. Also, only fraternity members were included in this study, thus narrowing the results by sex and social environment. “Studies designed to assess the effectiveness of the ECALC with other types of college students are clearly warranted,” Dunn said.

Fried, Abigail B., and Michael E. Dunn. The expectancy challenge alcohol literacy curriculum (ECALC): A single session group intervention to reduce alcohol use. Psychology of Addictive Behaviors 26.3 (2012): 615-20. Print.

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  • rachel

    October 31st, 2012 at 3:36 AM

    ECALC sounds like something that holds promise and something that ought to be followed in all colleges possible.the levels of drinking in students in colleges is surprising and if we can control that with this technique then why not!

  • Leighton

    October 31st, 2012 at 4:04 AM

    Very encouraging, given that binge drinking has become such an issue on many college campuses. I hate that the issue has become so pervasive that this has dampened the reputation of the entire Greek system at schools to because there are a lot of these groups that do so much good.

  • Lorraine

    October 31st, 2012 at 2:32 PM

    All these frats and sorority kids do is get drunk. If there is one thing common between all the fraternitists then it is the binged drinking. I have literally seen people stayin high for days because they never stopped drinking. The moment they were losing their high they would be drinking again.This alcohol culture in such fraternities is turning even non drinkers into essentially one of them.

  • coleman r

    October 31st, 2012 at 2:37 PM

    Would you then make this madadtory for anyone pledging a fraternity or sorority in college? Looks like the different chapters could make this arequirement for their pledges and that this could help to stop some of this behavior before it even starts. Of course you are kind of fighting an uphill battle in this environment where many are joining simply because of the party atmosphere that they are hoping to find. Another big thing to remember is that these are not the only college age kids engaging in drinking and bad behavior. This is rampant pretty much anywhere you go on a college campus so the interventions can’t just stop at one group or another. It somehow has to be aimed at all students.

  • ben

    November 1st, 2012 at 12:10 AM

    would have loved to have such a thing when I was in college..the drinking among college students is absolutely crazy and it’s almost like people are drinking all the time..if a short class of this nature can indeed help the college goers then maybe we should try it out in a few colleges.its effects may not last forever and that is why they Gould probably look at making a few episodes or chapters of the class, each of which could be delivered every month.

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