Binge Drinking Among Underage College Students: Role of Impulsivity and the Transtheoretical Model

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A major public health problem facing American colleges is binge drinking by students with adverse effects on academic achievement and self-fulfillment. The short-term negative consequences of binge drinking include memory loss, hangovers, and blackouts. Binge drinking has been related to campus problems, suicides, violence, sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), heightened aggression, automobile accidents, property damage, and academic failure. This study investigated the relationship of impulsivity to readiness to change binge drinking behavior among college students attending a 4-year university. The theoretical formulation for the study was based on Prochaska and DiClemente's transtheoretical model. Participants were volunteer undergraduate college students from a state-supported Southeastern University. The students were recruited from undergraduate classrooms, fraternities, and sororities. The volunteer participants were 248 undergraduate college students enrolled in a 4-year university in the southeastern United States. This study consists of a subgroup, 131 of the 248 participants which were 93 binge drinkers and 38 nondrinkers. Three surveys were administered: the Student Alcohol Questionnaire (SAQ), Barratt's Impulsivity Scale (BIS-11), and the Brief Readiness to Change Questionnaire (BRCQ). Impulsivity was significantly correlated with binge drinking and the transtheoretical stages of change. Impulsivity can result in a lack of inhibitory control, which is a risk factor for binge drinking. The results of this study suggest that impulsivity may interfere with intentional behavioral change. This study may have valuable implications for the current and future design of alcohol prevention programs at institutions of higher education.

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