New tactics more effective to cut binge drinking

17th February, 2015 by Melita Kiely

Highlighting the benefits of not drinking alcohol to young people is more effective than warning of the dangers associated with binge drinking, a new study has shown.


Young people are more likely to reduce their alcohol intake if the benefits of doing so are highlighted to them

According to Dr Dominic Conroy, researcher at the University of Sussex, UK, students have a better chance of lowering their alcohol intake if advice focuses on the benefits such as more money and improved health.

Furthermore, the research, published in the British Journal of Health Psychology, revealed a drinks diary was not as effective in deterring problem drinking compared to completing an exercise related to abstaining from alcohol.

“Our research contributes to existing health promotion advice, which seeks to encourage young people to consider taking ‘dry days’ yet does not always indicate the range of benefits nor suggest how non-drinking can be more successfully managed in social situations,” commented Conroy, as reported by the New Zealand Herald.

His research involved 211 English university students aged 18-25, who each completed one out of four exercises over a month.

Tasks included imagining positive outcomes of non-drinking during a social occasion, strategies to not drink alcohol in social situations, combining imagining positive outcomes and strategies, or keeping a drinks diary.

Conroy found on average, students who thought of positive outcomes reduced their weekly alcohol intake from 20 units to just 14.

In addition, those who imagined coping mechanisms for abstaining on social occasions drank alcohol less frequently, falling on average from 1.05 occasions a week to 0.73.

“I think this shows that health campaigners need to be targeted and easy to fit into daily life but also help support people to accomplish changes in behaviour that might sometimes involve ‘going against the grain’, such as periodically not drinking even when in the company of people who are drinking,” Conroy concluded.

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