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Perception May Affect Drinking by College Students

they were drinking less frequently.

Individual counseling also led students to drink less often. Two studies with a total of 217 participants found 63 percent of students reported drinking less frequently after the intervention.

Jeanie Alter, program manager and lead evaluator of the Indiana Prevention Resource Center at Indiana University's School of Health, Physical Education and Recreation, said she was surprised that group interventions were not more effective.

"I am a bit surprised by these findings simply because, by providing normative information to a group, I would have expected that it would provide a level of social support for refusal," Alter said in the news release. "A similarly minded group usually would back you up in your decision not to use."

The researchers said that peer influence appears to play a role in how much students drink but that students might believe that other students drink more than they actually do.

Interventions that bring perceptions more in line with reality could lead students to drink less themselves, they suggested.

"In the U.K., young people are drinking earlier and heavier than ever before," Foxcroft said. "Levels of alcohol consumption amongst 11- to 13-year-olds have almost doubled in the last 10 years or so."

More information

The U.S. National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism has more on drinking among college students.

-- Jennifer Thomas

SOURCE: Health Behavior News Service, news release, July 19, 2009

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