One effective event-level index that can assist in identifying risky intoxication levels among college students is blood alcohol concentration (BAC). Despite widespread exposure to BAC information, doubt exists as to whether American college students can accurately estimate their own BAC level or drinking behaviors while intoxicated. This study assessed whether students can accurately guesstimate their BAC level (gBAC) and drinking behaviors used to estimate BAC (eBAC) while drinking in social college settings
Participants (N = 225; 56.4% male) consisted of emerging adults attending either a two- or four-year college who had at least one alcoholic drink within the two hours prior to assessment. Participants were approached at night when returning from parties and/or alcohol-serving establishments. They completed an initial questionnaire, gave a breath sample to assess breath alcohol content (BrAC), and then completed an on-line follow-up questionnaire within 48 hours of baseline assessment.
Participants at lower levels of intoxication tended to slightly overestimate their BAC level, while those at higher levels tended to markedly underestimate their BAC level. In addition, discrepancies among BrAC, gBAC, and eBAC were found as a function of gender. Lastly, differences in eBAC scores did not differ when drinking behaviors were obtained via in vivo versus retrospective methodology.
Findings suggest that college students generally have difficulty assessing their BAC level and drinking behaviors while drinking in the college social setting. This study offers particular insight for research relying on estimates of BAC as well as interventions utilizing BAC education.
Driving after drinking (DAD) is a serious public health concern found to be more common among college students than those of other age groups or same-aged non-college peers. The current study examined potential predictors of DAD among a dual-site sample of 3,753 (65% female, 58% Caucasian) college students. Results showed that 19.1% of respondents had driven after 3 or more drinks and 8.6% had driven after 5 or more drinks in the past three months. A logistic regression model showed that male status, fraternity or sorority affiliation, family history of alcohol abuse, medium or heavy drinking (as compared to light drinking), more approving self-attitudes towards DAD, and alcohol expectancies for sexual enhancement and risk/aggression, were independently associated with driving after drinking over and above covariates. These results extend the current understanding of this high risk drinking behavior in collegiate populations and provide implications for preventive strategies. Findings indicate that in addition to targeting at-risk subgroups, valuable directions for DAD-related interventions may include focusing on lowering both self-approval of DAD and alcohol-related expectancies, particularly those associated with risk/aggression and sexuality.
alcohol; driving; drinking; injunctive norms; expectancies
College students who violate campus alcohol policies (adjudicated students) are at high risk for experiencing negative alcohol-related consequences and for undermining campus life. Further, college women may be especially at risk due to differential intoxication effects and sexual consequences experienced mainly by female students. Research on interventions for adjudicated students, especially adjudicated females, has been limited. One hundred and fifteen college women who received a sanction for violating campus alcohol policies participated in the study. The two hour group intervention focused on female-specific reasons for drinking and included decisional balance, goal setting and other exercises. Participants completed follow-up surveys for 12 weeks following the intervention and answered questions regarding alcohol consumption and alcohol-related negative consequences. Findings support the use of an MI-based intervention to reduce both alcohol consumption and consequences among adjudicated females. Specifically, alcohol use was reduced by 29.9% and negative consequences were reduced by 35.87% from pre-intervention to 3-month follow up. Further, the intervention appeared to successfully initiate change in the heaviest drinkers, as women who drank at risky levels reduced alcohol consumption to a greater extent than women who drank at moderate levels.
adjudicated college students; motivational interviewing; female; college drinking
Marijuana is the most commonly used illicit drug among college students and has the potential for various negative outcomes. Perceptions of what constitutes typical approval/acceptability of a reference group (i.e. injunctive social norms) have been shown to have strong utility as predictors of health-risk behaviors in the college context, yet this construct remains significantly understudied for marijuana use despite its potential for use in social norms-based interventions. The current research evaluated individuals’ marijuana approval level and their perceptions of others’ marijuana approval level (i.e. injunctive norms) for various reference groups (typical student on campus, one’s close friends, one’s parents) as a function of individual user status (abstainers, experimenters, occasional users, regular users). A diverse sample of 3553 college students from two universities completed an online survey. Among all user status groups, individual approval yielded mean scores paralleling that of perceived close friends’ approval and all groups were relatively uniform in their perception of typical students’ approval. Higher levels of marijuana use tended to produce higher endorsements of individual approval, perceived close friends’ approval, and perceived parental approval. Among occasional and regular users, there were no differences between one’s own approval level for use and the perceptions of close friends’ approval, nor did they think the typical student was more approving than themselves. Abstainers and experimenters, however, perceived typical students and close friends to have more permissive attitudes than themselves. Implications and future directions for research regarding the role of injunctive marijuana use norms in the development of social norms intervention are discussed.
Marijuana use; injunctive norms; reference group; social norms intervention
This study compares the natural drinking patterns of family history positive and family history negative women during their first semester of college, a transitional period known to coincide with considerable alcohol-related risks.
Seventy-two incoming undergraduate females, approximately half of whom reported a family history of alcohol misuse, completed initial questionnaires as well as Timeline Followback assessments. In addition, participants completed five successive weeks of online behavioral diaries measuring three categories of prospective alcohol consumption: total drinks, maximum drinks, and heavy episodic drinking events. Repeated measures ANCOVA models, controlling for prior alcohol consumption, examined participants’ drinking behavior.
Over the course of the five assessed weeks, first semester females with a genetic predisposition to alcohol problems were found to consume significantly more total drinks (p < .05), maximum drinks (p < .05), and were more likely to drink heavily (p < .05) than family history negative peers.
Findings highlight increased alcohol-related risks faced by incoming first-year college females with a reported family history of problematic drinking and, thus, emphasize the need for early interventions targeted toward this at-risk group.
This study examined whether a self-reported family history of alcohol abuse (FH+) moderated the effects of a female-specific group motivational enhancement intervention with first-year college women. First-year college women (N= 287) completed an initial questionnaire and attended an intervention (n=161) or control (n=126) group session, of which 118 reported FH+. Repeated measures ANCOVA models were estimated to investigate whether the effectiveness of the intervention varied as a function of one’s reported family history of alcohol abuse. Results revealed that family history of alcohol abuse moderated intervention efficacy. Although the intervention was effective in producing less risky drinking relative to controls, among those participants who received the intervention, FH+ women drank less across five weeks of follow-up than FH− women. The current findings provide preliminary support for the differential effectiveness of motivational enhancement interventions with FH+ women. Keywords: college women, intervention, alcohol abuse, family history, motivational interviewing
Research on adolescents focuses increasingly on features of the family in predicting and preventing substance use. Multivariate analyses of data from the National Survey of Parents and Youth (N = 4,173) revealed numerous significant differences on risk variables associated with family structure on adolescent drug-related perceptions and illicit substance use. Youth from dual-parent households were least likely to use drugs and were monitored more closely than single-parent youth (p < .001). A path analytic model estimated to illuminate linkages among theoretically implicated variables revealed that family income and child’s gender (p < .001), along with family structure (p < .05), affected parental monitoring, but not parental warmth. Monitoring and warmth, in turn, predicted adolescents’ social and interpersonal perceptions of drug use (p < .001), and both variables anticipated adolescents’ actual drug use one year later (p < .001). Results reconfirm the importance of parental monitoring and warmth and demonstrate the link between these variables, adolescents’ social and intrapersonal beliefs, and their use of illicit substances.
marijuana; smoking; drugs; alcoholic beverages; family structure
Studies examining family history of alcohol abuse among college students are not only conflicting, but have suffered various limitations. The current report investigates family history of alcohol abuse (FH+) and its relationship with alcohol expectancies, consumption, and consequences. In the current study, 3753 student participants (35% FH+), completed online assessments. Compared to FH−same-sex peers, FH+ males and FH+ females endorsed greater overall positive expectancies, consumed more drinks per week, and experienced more alcohol-related negative consequences. Further, FH+ females evaluated the negative effects of alcohol to be substantially worse than FH− females. An ANCOVA, controlling for age, GPA, race, and alcohol expectancies, resulted in family history main effects on both drinking and consequences. An interaction also emerged between gender and family history, such that FH+ males were especially vulnerable to high levels of alcohol consumption. Results reveal the scope of FH+ individuals in the college environment and the increased risk for these students, particularly male FH+ students, suggesting a need for researchers and college health personnel to focus attention and resources on this issue.
family history; alcohol use; college students; gender differences; alcohol expectancies; consequences
Despite research indicating that effective parenting plays an important protective role in adolescent risk behaviors, few studies have applied theory to examine this link with marijuana use, especially with national data. In the current study (N=2,141), we hypothesized that parental knowledge (of adolescent activities and whereabouts) and parental warmth are antecedents of adolescents’ marijuana beliefs—attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control—as posited by the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB; Ajzen 1991). These three types of beliefs were hypothesized to predict marijuana intention, which in turn was hypothesized to predict marijuana consumption. Results of confirmatory factor analyses corroborated the psychometric properties of the two-factor parenting structure as well as the five-factor structure of the TPB. Further, the proposed integrative predictive framework, estimated with a latent structural equation model, was largely supported. Parental knowledge inversely predicted pro-marijuana attitudes, subjective norms, and perceived behavioral control; parental warmth inversely predicted pro-marijuana attitudes and subjective norms, ps<.001. Marijuana intention (p<.001), but not perceived behavioral control, predicted marijuana use 1 year later. In households with high parental knowledge, parental warmth also was perceived to be high (r=.54, p<.001). Owing to the analysis of nationally representative data, results are generalizable to the United States population of adolescents 12–18 years of age.
Parental knowledge; Parental warmth; Theory of planned behavior; Marijuana; Adolescents
Greek-affiliated college students have been found to drink more heavily and frequently than other students. With female student drinking on the rise over the past decade, sorority women may be at particular risk for heavy consumption patterns. The current study is the first to apply the Theory of Planned Behavior (TPB) to examine drinking patterns among a sorority-only sample. Two-hundred and forty-seven sorority members completed questionnaires measuring TPB variables of attitudes, norms, perceived behavioral control, and intentions, with drinking behaviors measured one month later. Latent structural equation modeling examined the pathways of the TPB model. Intentions to drink mediated the relationship between attitudes and norms on drinking behavior. Subjective norms predicted intentions to drink more than attitudes or perceived behavioral control. Perceived behavioral control did not predict intentions but did predict drinking behaviors. Interpretation and suggestions from these findings are discussed.
Theory of Planned Behavior; sorority members; female students; college drinking; intentions
This study investigates an approach for reducing inhalant initiation among younger adolescents: altering Socio-Personal Expectations (SPEs), a term referring to perceived linkages between behavior and personally relevant social outcomes. The study focuses specifically on SPEs regarding outcomes associated with increased social status and popularity. An anti-inhalant message was embedded within a short anti-bullying education video. Young adolescents (N=893) were assigned randomly to receive a message focused on the physical or the social harms of inhalant use. The objectives of this study were to test: (1) the malleability of SPEs, (2) SPEs’ predictive validity for future inhalant use, and (3) whether being exposed to a socio-personal threat, rather than a physical threat, led to different variables affecting drug-relevant decision-making processes. Analysis of variance suggested the malleability of SPEs (p<.001). Multiple regression analysis revealed that SPEs were predictive of future inhalant use. SPEs accounted for a significant portion of variance in future intentions over and above demographic variables, prior use, psychosocial variables, and perceived physical harm (R2=.26, p<.01). Moreover, being exposed to a social, rather than a physical threat, message resulted in different variables being predictive of future intentions to use inhalants.
Inhalants; Prevention; Expectations; Health campaign; Health behavior; Socio-personal expectations
Drug prevention campaigns commonly seek to change outcome expectancies associated with substance use, but the effects of violating such expectancies are rarely considered. This study details an application of the expectancy violation framework in a real world context by investigating whether changes in marijuana expectations are associated with subsequent future marijuana intentions. A cohort of adolescents (N = 1,344; age range = 12-18 years) from the National Survey of Parents and Youth was analyzed via secondary analysis. Nonusers at baseline were assessed 1 year later. Changes in expectancies were significantly associated with changes in intentions (p < .001). Moreover, in most cases, changes in expectancies and intentions had the strongest relationship among those who became users. The final model accounted for 31% of the variance (p < .001). Consistent with laboratory studies, changes in marijuana expectancies were predictive of changes in marijuana intentions. These results counsel caution when describing negative outcomes of marijuana initiation. If adolescents conclude that the harms of marijuana use are not as grave as they had been led to expect, intentions to use might intensify.
adolescence; marijuana use; expectancy violations; outcome expectancies; drug prevention
This research expands the user/nonuser dichotomy commonly used in research on marijuana. By conceptualizing nonusers as homogeneous, vital nuances in susceptibility to risk and protective factors may be overlooked. Research operations tested the predictive validity of a brief measure that divided nonusers into resolute and vulnerable subcategories; determined whether variables that distinguished nonusers and users were more informative when a tripartite classification was used; and with an eye on future prevention, examined variables on which resolute nonusers were similar to vulnerable nonusers or users, and on which they differed from both. A nationally representative sample of respondents (N=2,111; ages 12−16 years) from the National Survey of Parents and Youth was used in this secondary analysis. Panel data gathered yearly over four rounds included information on intentions and use of marijuana and other illicit substances, along with social, demographic, intrapersonal, and parental variables. The three groups differed significantly on associates’ marijuana use, participants’ approval of others’ use, and cigarette and alcohol use. Resolute nonusers differed from vulnerable nonusers and users alike on religiosity, delinquency (self and friends’), refusal strength, sensation seeking, parental monitoring and warmth, and adult supervision. Results support the utility of distinguishing vulnerable from resolute nonusers, counsel against considering nonusers as a homogeneous group, and provide insight into variables that might prove useful in future prevention efforts.
Marijuana usage; Risk taking; Adolescent attitudes; Drug initiation; Drug abuse; Risk factors; Secondary analysis; Vulnerability