A research project at The University of Southern Mississippi focused on college student alcohol consumption is also being used as a service to students who can benefit from its intervention component.
The project, Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) plus Protective Behavioral Strategies (SBI+PBS) for College Student Drinking, is conducted through the Department of Psychology’s Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic. Dr. Michael Madson, assistant professor of counseling psychology, is principal investigator of the project and is assisted by graduate students in the counseling psychology program.
Students who think their alcohol consumption is excessive or who are referred by university student service entities such as the Department of Residence Life can participate in the program, Madson said. In addition to research, the intervention service component of the project serves as an additional resource for students.
“Hopefully, these interventions can reduce the harm associated with alcohol use and lead to more positive behaviors, such as making more responsible decisions about alcohol and not finding one’s self in compromising situations as a result of binge drinking,” Madson said.
Madson’s research will examine reports of binge drinking among college-age students and the negative health and social consequences of the behavior. National statistics cited by him show that on average 1,700 college students age 18-24 die each year from unintentional alcohol-related injuries. Nearly 600,000 are unintentionally injured under the influence, and 97,000 are victims of alcohol-related sexual assault or date rape. Academic consequences include missing class, low grades and dropping out.
National research also shows that more than 66 percent of college students engage in heavy alcohol consumption at least once a month. The negative behaviors that result from binge drinking effects not only affect those engaged in the behavior but others in a college setting, whether they drink or not.
The intervention component of the project includes a combination of motivational interviewing and cognitive behavioral skills training in two sessions. The interviewer conducts a personal assessment based on information provided by the student, and then feedback and problem solving strategies are implemented. Additional services can include follow-up booster sessions to referral to ongoing alcohol treatment or other university services, including those that are health and counseling-based.
In addition to collecting data for Madson’s research, the project also benefits graduate students by giving them training that can be applied after graduation in careers where they encounter clients who need help overcoming problems with alcohol consumption.
“A lot of our doctoral students go on to work in college counseling centers, so this project provides them with some good skills to deal with substance abuse issues among clients,” he said.
Jennifer Tumlin, assistant director for student housing and judicial officer for the Southern Miss Department of Residence Life, says she’s worked with the program at other universities and can vouch for its success.
Tumlin said there’s a social conception of college that’s something along the lines of scenes from the movie “Animal House” and some students may feel they aren’t having the normal college experience if they’re not engaged in those behaviors, she said.
“This program provides them with information to make better choices, including about the social consequences and their health,” she said. “When they hear that calorically they easily ingest the caloric intake equivalent to 12 or more hamburgers, or introduce a higher level of risk into their life through excessive alcohol consumption, that information can help them avoid compromising situations.”
For more information about Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) plus Protective Behavioral Strategies, contact Madson at 601.266.4546.
About The University of Southern Mississippi
The University of Southern Mississippi, founded in 1910, is a comprehensive doctoral and research-extensive university fulfilling its mission of being a leading university in engaging and empowering individuals to transform lives and communities. In a tradition of leadership for student development, Southern Miss is educating a 21st century work force providing intellectual capital, cultural enrichment and innovation to Mississippi and the world. Southern Miss is located in Hattiesburg, Miss., with an additional campus and teaching and research sites on the Mississippi Gulf Coast; further information is found at www.usm.edu.