Binge drinking among emerging adults remains a major concern for parents, mental health professionals and college administrators since it is more common among those ages 18-34. According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), binge drinking is considered 5 or more drinks for men and 4 or more drinks for women, in about 2 hours. Those who are concerned about binge drinking have well-founded reasons given the serious consequences such as alcohol poisoning, injuries or death, sexually transmitted diseases, unintended pregnancy, violence, health problems, academic underachievement, mental health problems and more.
The good news is that we can use evidence-based approaches to combat this problem. Research has shown that there are interventions that help emerging adults to reduce or to modify problematic drinking. The three interventions below are highly recommended.
1. Promote Online and In-Person Alcohol Screenings
Emerging adults who are non-dependent, high-risk drinkers account for the majority of alcohol-related problems. Fortunately, screenings can help to identify problematic drinkers and get them connected with help. Emerging adults typically do not identify themselves as problematic drinkers. Therefore, easy-to-use alcohol screenings, especially for those with alcohol-related violations, are crucial for early detection and intervention. Here are two great resources:
- ULifeline Online Self-Evaluator: The anonymous Self Evaluator allows students to learn if a treatable mental health problem could be affecting them or a friend.
- National Alcohol Screening Day: This brief screening about alcohol use will help students get help if needed and referrals are tailored for their campus counseling center or health center. This event is held in April of every year.
2. Encourage Brief Intervention Counseling Lasting One to Four Sessions
Emerging adults who drink in ways that are harmful or risky may respond better to brief interventions consisting of one to four sessions with a trained professional. This approach is helpful to those who have experienced, or are at risk for, alcohol-related problems such as poor class or job attendance, missed assignments, accidents, sexual assault, and violence. It is designed to help emerging adults to make better decisions around their use of alcohol by providing feedback on drinking behavior with an opportunity to discuss a plan for change. A popular evidence-based model that is used for college students is the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS). Parents may inquire about this screening at their child’s college counseling center.
3. Educate Emerging Adults to Dispel Myths about Alcohol
Emerging adults often have skewed perceptions about alcohol. The lack of knowledge about how much others use, risks involved with using, ability to function under the influence, effects of alcohol and other misinformation places them at greater risk. A trained professional can use data to refute misconceptions and to guide emerging adults in alcohol-use decision-making based upon real facts. When emerging adults respond to situations from an informed place, they are empowered to more effectively handle decisions and situations involving alcohol.
These recommendations offer an opportunity to identify problematic drinkers and to offer help. Through screenings, brief interventions and education, emerging adults can receive the support needed to reduce or to modify problematic drinking. In the event a higher level of care is needed to address alcohol usage or chemical dependency, please contact New Hope Recovery Center at 773.883.3916 for an assessment. We offer Intensive Outpatient treatment (IOP) services as well as Residential Day Treatment (RDT) for emerging adults in Chicago dealing with complications from drug and alcohol usage.
Written by: New Hope Recovery Center
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