Tough college alcohol policies reduce underage and binge drinking on campus without causing a compensatory rise in marijuana use, according to investigators at the Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research (CeASAR) at Children's Hospital Boston. The CeASAR study team surveyed students and administrators at 11 Massachusetts colleges and universities to assess the results of a more restrictive alcohol use enforcement policy put forth by the Mass. Board of Higher Education. The researchers found declines in past 30-day rates of any drinking, binge drinking, and regular heavy drinking. Declines in binge drinking were greatest among schools that adhered to the new enforcement policies from the outset. "Policies can only work if they are sufficiently enforced," says Sion Kim Harris, PhD, CPH, lead author of the study. "Our study adds to a growing body of evidence that alcohol control policies and strong policy enforcement can, over time, reduce underage high-risk drinking behaviors. We found that an aggressive enforcement stance by college leaders is particularly important to the success of these efforts."
The study was published in the journal Substance Abuse Treatment, Prevention, and Policy.