Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

Institutional Prevention Programs as Predictors of Binge Drinking among Black Americans Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs

Academic journal article Negro Educational Review

Institutional Prevention Programs as Predictors of Binge Drinking among Black Americans Attending Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs

Article excerpt

Introduction

Binge and other heavy drinking patterns have plagued institutions of higher learning for many years (Bulmer, Irfan, Mugno, Barton, & Ackerman, 2010; O'Malley& Johnson, 2002). Factors such as residence in a fraternity or sorority house, age, chronic partying, prior binging in high school, and other current risky behaviors significantly predict patterns of college alcohol use at majority institutions (Wechsler, Lee, Nelson, & Kuo, 2002; Wechsler, Dowdall, Davenport, & Castillo, 1995). Recently, researchers have begun to explore factors that reduce the likelihood and risk of binging. These studies have included individual level and systems level factors.

In a study of binge drinking rates from 2 major national surveys, the state in which a student attends college was found to predict binge drinking by college students. The researchers concluded that state level policies related to alcohol control may exert significant influence on college binge drinking behaviors (Nelson, Naimi, Brewer, & Wechsler, 2005; Mitchell, Toomey, & Erickson, 2005). Tightening relaxed or less restrictive state and local alcohol policies have been found to reduce college drinking, and many have reviewed these data to conclude that high alcohol consumption rates by college students may be associated with the lack of environmental reinforcers for controlled drinking (Williams, Liccardo, Chaloupka, & Wechsler, 2004; Weitzman, Nelson, Lee, & Wechsler, 2004; Lewis, 2001). Even more recently, and in a review of data collected across years 1993 to 2001 from 4 -year colleges in the United States and representing more than 50,000 students, a campus culture, as a function of its policies, permissive of alcohol consumption was found to produce students who were more likely to binge and consume greater quantities of alcohol (Wechsler & Nelson, 2008). With this wealth of data, very little is known about the influence of campus policies and students' knowledge of those policies on alcohol consumption patterns on campuses of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs).

Although historical surveys of substance use among college students have provided important information, they generally and collectively suffer an important limitation. Such surveys most often consist of predominantly of White American students (O'Hare, 1990; Wechsler, Davenport, Dowdall, Moeykens, & Castillo 1994; Wechsler & Issac, 1992) with relatively little representation of Black American and other minority students. However, there is much evidence that, among young adults, patterns of substance and alcohol use differ by ethnicity. For example, black men have been found to show lower rates of heavy drinking in young adulthood than white men (Caetano & Herd, 1984; Caetano, 1984; Herd, 1990), and black females show higher rates of abstinence at all ages than white females (Caetano, 1984). Hispanic young adults, similar to non-Hispanic whites, have been found to show increases in heavy drinking and associated problems during the young adult years (Caetano, 1984), but Hispanic women show higher rates of abstention at all ages than non-Hispanic white women (Caetano, 1984). By surveying relatively homogeneous samples of students, possible differences in substance use patterns by young adults in minority groups go undetected. Further, the specific data on Black Americans to make such comparisons is generally unavailable.

Because of the misperception that binge drinking primarily occurs on the campuses of Predominantly White Institutions (PWIs) of higher learning, very little attention over the years has been focused on factors that influence binge drinking on the campuses of HBCUs (Sheffield, Darkes, Del Boca & Goldman, 2005). Alcohol policies within a state have been found to influence students' binge drinking behaviors at PWIs (Nelson et al., 2005), while active policy intervention has been postulated as a primary factor in reducing student binge drinking rates (Seo & Li, 2009). …

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