A college is hardly the first place that comes to mind when one considers which institutions would find it in their best interests to stymie on-campus drinking. After all, the students need something to take off the edge of classes, finals, student debt, and a fledgling education system, right? Not according to Lori Scott-Sheldon, a psychiatry and human behavior assistant professor at Brown and researcher in the Centers for Behavioral and Preventive Medicine at The Miriam, and lead author for a study covering the best ways that our colleges can reduce the economic, property, and public damage caused by unruly co-eds on the eve of, well, every weekend.

The study in question, posted on Medical News Today’s site, revealed that, while the prevention methods and interventions did not keep many of the students from wholly abstaining from alcohol abuse, minimal effects were nevertheless impactful in that even the smallest changes in the individual all pointed to the phenomena referred to as the Prevention Paradox—that is, a large majority of students shared these small changes, and thus a widespread impact had occurred.Says co-author Kate Carey, a professor in the Brown University School of Public Health:

College drinking is one of those cases where the majority of harms or alcohol-related problems that accumulate on a campus can be attributed not to the relatively small number of really problematic drinkers, but to the majority of moderate drinkers because there are so many of them. Thus, small effect sizes mean that any given person may change just a little as a result of an intervention, but when we expand the effects to the whole freshman class we would expect prevention programs like those we reviewed to have a public health impact.

Over the course of a decade, the team interviewed over 24,000 freshmen, implementing 62 different intervention styles that were delivered in randomized, clinical trials. At the conclusion, the results pointed to a multi-pointed intervention approach which targeted individual feedback reports tailored to the student and their drinking habits, moderation strategies, goal-setting, and identifying risky situations.

The best part is that it’s all low-cost.

[These] recommendations are relatively inexpensive, but would require allocation of more resources to alcohol prevention than is generally allocated on most campuses now,” Carey said. “But what is rarely discussed is the cost of not investing in these prevention measures: continued property damage, maintenance, security and emergency transport expenses associated with alcohol misuse, or student assaults and injuries.

What do you think?