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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