*NEW resource* Heavy episodic drinking: Influencing factors and implications

Posted on August 22nd, 2018

Many Canadian post-secondary campuses struggle to understand and cope with the issue of heavy episodic drinking among post-secondary students. To help address this issue, the Canadian Centre on Substance Use and Addiction (CCSA) conducted focus groups on five Canadian post-secondary campuses. We investigated student attitudes, perceptions and expectations about heavy drinking, their reasons for heavy drinking, and the consequences they associate with it, as well as their suggestions for addressing the issue.

Some important findings from this study include:

  • Pre-drinking (drinking in an informal context before going to a bar or party) is a potentially important contributing factor to heavy episodic drinking.
  • Students do not perceive excessive drinking among students as a serious concern.
  • Despite experiencing negative consequences from drinking, students see drinking as an expected part of the university experience with minimal health or safety risks.
  • Negative experiences of students who drink heavily include conflicts, blackouts, non-consensual sex, vomiting and hangovers.
  • Some students use drinking as a coping mechanism, sometimes unknowingly, but few are aware of alternative coping mechanisms to drinking.
  • Students suggested many potential solutions to address heavy episodic drinking, including peer education with factual, balanced information that is reinforced by respected adults

Heavy Episodic Drinking Among Post-secondary Students can be accessed on the CCSA website, www.ccsa.ca, along with an accompanying report in short and a tool containing student suggestions. You can also find these items on the website of the Postsecondary Education Partnership — Alcohol Harms (PEP-AH; www.pepah.ca). PEP-AH is a collaboration of post-secondary institutions working to reduce the harms of alcohol on campus.

Please do not hesitate to contact Shawna Meister ([email protected]) directly should you have any questions or would like to engage with our team about ways to effectively address youth alcohol harms.

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