Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

A Systematic Review of Interventions Aimed at Reducing Binge Drinking among College Students

Academic journal article Journal of Alcohol & Drug Education

A Systematic Review of Interventions Aimed at Reducing Binge Drinking among College Students

Article excerpt


The purpose of this article was to systematically review the interventions aimed at reducing binge drinking in college students. A total of 18 interventions published between 2010 and 2015 were evaluated in this review. Two main study designs were used by these interventions: randomized controlled trials (RCTs) and quasi-experimental designs, with the majority being RCTs. Most of the interventions were based on brief motivational interviewing (BMI); however four articles utilized theoretical frameworks that differed from BMI. The majority of interventions targeted both alcohol use and alcohol-related consequences. A major limitation among interventions was the insufficient use of process evaluations. Based on this review it can be concluded that generally interventions were effective in reducing binge drinking among college students.

Keywords: binge drinking, alcohol use, college students


Binge drinking is highly prevalent among college students in the United States (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention [CDC], 2012). The U.S. Surgeon General and the United States Department of Health and Human Services (2007) have identified binge drinking among college students as a major public health concern. Binge drinking has been defined as the consumption of four or more drinks by women or five or more drinks by men during a single occasion; or a pattern of drinking bringing a person's blood alcohol concentration to 0.08 grams or above (National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism [NIAAA], 2004). Researchers occasionally use the term "heavy episodic drinking" synonymously with binge drinking to characterize a pattern of heavy drinking over a short period of time (Courtney & Polich, 2009). Moreover, the words binge drinking and heavy drinking will be used synonymously in this review.

The consumption of alcohol results in many health and safety concerns that include personal, social and economic consequences for individuals, their families, communities and the nation (Fairbairn, & Sayette, 2014; Levitt, Derrick, Testa, 2014; Soule, Barnett, Curbow, Moorhouse, & Weiler, 2015). An increase in alcohol consumption can result in symptoms such as blackouts, vomiting and headache/hangover. Binge drinking has been associated with an increase in the following behaviors: driving while intoxicated, risky sexual behaviors, the use of illicit drugs, unintentional injuries, physical and sexual assault, impaired academic performance and health and legal problems (Hingson, Zha, & Weitzman, 2009). Long-term use of alcohol use can result in alcohol dependency, alcohol overdose and various health problems such as neurological damage, high blood pressure, stroke, cardiovascular diseases, liver disease and death (CDC, 2014).

Binge drinking and college students in United States

Alcohol is one of the most widely used substances by youth and young adults (Johnston, O'Malley, Bachman, & Schulenberg, 2009). A national study that was conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA, 2013) in 2012 revealed that 9.3 million individuals' ages 12 to 20 reported drinking alcohol in the past month. According to recent data reporting the percentage of binge drinking behaviors of college students, 37 percent of college students reported one or more binge drinking episodes in a 30 day period; it was also indicated that 20 percent of college students meet criteria for alcohol use disorder in a given year (Johnston et al., 2013).

There have been research findings that have compared college students drinking behaviors to non-college students of the same age. These findings have reported higher drinking behaviors among college students compared to non-college peers. Johnston et. al (2007) conducted earlier studies on alcohol use among college students concluding that college students take part in binge drinking at higher rates than peers of the same age that do not attend college. …

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