Students who participate in an early alcohol intervention program reportedly binge drink less, according to a study by Loyola Marymount University’s (LMU) Heads UP! program.

The report is scheduled to be published in the March-April issue of the Journal of College Student Development.

Heads UP! — named a model program by the U.S. Department of Education — is an alcohol awareness and treatment program that aims to curb problem drinking by LMU students.

The program has received more than $1.2 million in grants since its inception nearly three years ago.

“Our research shows that the intervention clearly leads to reductions in drinking behavior, alcohol-related consequences and judicial recidivism,” said Joseph LaBrie, S.J., director of the Heads UP! program and assistant professor of psychology at LMU.

“LMU’s Heads UP! program is successful because it doesn’t preach to students,” said Lane Bove, LMU vice president of student affairs. “It places the responsibility on students by asking them to make a conscious decision and be aware of the consequences as opposed to allowing themselves to be swept up by the moment.

“It asks them to literally think before they drink.”

The intervention for students consisted of a group of 167 participants — 100 men and 67 women — who were all first-time offenders of campus alcohol policies.

“Males and females reduced their drinks per month by 50 percent and 45 percent, respectively,” LaBrie said.

Among the adjudicated students, 71 percent were freshmen. Approximately 250 volunteers — nearly 25 percent of the freshmen men living in campus housing — participated in the sessions offered each fall semester.

“Our results reveal a reduction in problematic drinking and alcohol violations by freshmen participants by comparing their behavior to their own previous behavior and to a control group of freshmen who did not participate in the intervention,” explained LaBrie.

LaBrie noted that this study and other national studies also suggest that young women are overdrinking at higher rates than their male counterparts and, therefore, Heads UP! launched an initiative for female students in Fall 2005.

“Women are less likely to become violent, vandalize buildings or otherwise break down the civility of a campus when they’re drinking,” LaBrie said.

This newest initiative received more than $650,000 from the National Institutes of Health and the National Institute on Alcoholism and Alcohol Abuse.

The grant, funded under the “Rapid Response to College Drinking Problems” initiative, is one of only 15 grants awarded nationwide.

Most recently, Heads UP! also received a $100,000 grant from the Alcoholic Beverage Medical Research Foundation for an initiative that seeks to correct students’ misperceptions of social norms.

“Simply, Heads UP! seeks to change the campus culture with respect to drinking by involving all freshmen, student leaders, student groups, faculty, staff and parents in a comprehensive alcohol awareness and prevention program,” LaBrie said.

Approximately 900 students have received counseling through the Heads UP! program since its inception in 2003.

Information, http://www.lmu .edu/headsup

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