Help-Seeking for Alcohol-Related Problems in College Students: Correlates and Preferred Resources


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Abstract

Despite the development of a variety of efficacious alcohol intervention approaches for college students, few student drinkers seek help. The present study assessed students' history of help-seeking for alcohol problems, as well as their estimates of how likely they would be to use various help-seeking resources, should they wish to change their drinking. Participants were 197 college students who reported recent heavy drinking (46% male, 68.5% White, 27.4% African-American). Participants completed measures related to their drinking and their use (both past use and likelihood of future use) of 14 different alcohol help-seeking options. Repeated-measures analyses of variance revealed that students preferred informal help-seeking (e.g., talking to friends and family) over formal (e.g., talking with a counselor or medical provider) and anonymous resources (e.g., internet- or computer-based programs). Higher self-ideal discrepancy, greater depressive symptoms, and more alcohol-related consequences were positively associated with actual past help-seeking. Alcohol-related problems and normative discrepancy were negatively associated with hypothetical likelihood of utilizing all three help-seeking resources. These results suggest that heavy drinking college students prefer low-threshold intervention options including peer, family, computerized, and brief motivational interventions. Only 36 participants (18.3% of the sample) reported that they had utilized any of the help-seeking options queried, suggesting that campus prevention efforts should include both promoting low-threshold interventions and attempting to increase the salience of alcohol-related risk and the potential utility of changing drinking patterns.

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