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Reforming College Drinking


A great number of works have been dedicated such issues as alcohol abuse among students. One of the most comprehensive sources is the book College Drinking: Reframing a Social Problem, written by George Dowdall in 2008. He analyzes origins of this phenomenon and proposes strategies for overcoming it. The authors main point is that this behavior has recently become a sign of prestige and social acceptance, therefore it is vital to dispel the myths about this dangerous habit. George Dowdall argues that “the image of drinking is iconic” this is why it is essential to show that overt attractiveness of this behavior is just a trap for the young generation (Dowdall, 8). It is also helpful to refer to the study “NIAAA’s Rapid Response to College Drinking ” conducted by a group of scholars under direction of William DeYoung in 2009. This study is based on the most up-to-date findings; it aims to assess the effectiveness of various methods of coping with this excessive drinking among college students. The major argument is that this issue cannot tackled only through imposing restrictions on students, it is necessary to bring changes into “the institutional setting and broader environment” i. e society (DeYoung et alp 12). Finally, we may need to analyze a newspaper article Dangerous College Drinking by Paul Candon, who strives to attract publics attention to this issue and outlines the strategies for alleviating the situation. He also states that alcohol is “seen as part and parcel of college life” (Candon, unpaged). Despite the differences between these sources, the writers regard college drinking as a cultural phenomenon as a sign of belonging to a certain group of people, namely, student community. Moreover, the authors agree that this issue demands different kinds of intervention like individualized or group counseling as well as changes to institutional, community and public policies.

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George Dowdall intends his book for a diverse range of readers: parents, educators, social workers and students. It can be observed even in the structure of this work because some chapters explore the underlying causes of this behavior, whereas passages mostly warn students against alcoholic binges and those risks which this conduct entails: for instance, sexual harassment, violence, a large number of accidents, including deaths (Dowdall, 3). The scholars argument is quite convincing he draws various examples in order to get his points across to the audience: he refers to media reports describing the accidents caused by alcoholic binges and analyzes movies which portray drinking as something attractive. George Dowdall relies on the statistical data in order to prove his point. According to the scholar, the major task of educators, psychologists, and social workers is to dispel “media stereotypes of college” and students life (Dowdall, p 84).

He proposes different strategies that may help these people: individual or group counseling, changes to the public policy, especially the sales of alcoholic beverages, establishing stricter rules for those students who are constantly engaged in binging or other deviant behavior. Most importantly, it is necessary to prove to them that there are more pleasant and absorbing pastimes apart from consuming alcohol. This conduct should no longer be prestigious or elitist. From his standpoint, media reports portraying the ugly side of binge drinking can considerably diminish the consumption of alcohol among college students (Dowdall, 143). This source can be of great assistance to be used by educators in order to increase learners awareness of those dangers, social campaigners can employ while tailoring anti-alcohol campaigns. Perhaps, every undergraduate student should be acquainted with this work as this will immensely alter his or her attitude towards alcohol abuse.

Similar ideas have been expressed by Paul Candon who believes that counseling can help to transform college drinking habits. His audience is also rather diverse as this magazine article can be of some interest for medical workers, educators and average people. He draws statistical data showing that a number of abusive drinkers changed their behavior after going through therapy sessions. During the sessions behavior change was discussed and after six months the students had reduced their alcohol intake level (Candon 1). Yet, we can say that Paul Candon is not as persuasive as George Dowdall. He only strives to make the most cursory survey of prevention methods. But he hesitates to choose any particular one.

On the whole, the journalist is the supporter of institutional or even community interventions. In this opinion, increasing police patrols can also help to reduce college drinking. The policing can make students more responsible and more apprehensive of drinking on the territory of campus or its neighborhoods (Candon 1). He claims that the presence of the police would deter students from drunken driving. In turn this will diminish the mortality rate associated with drunken driving or violence. Students would also be discouraged from misbehaving outside campus as they know doing so would result in arrest. This is a strategy that requires the cooperation of the community and the colleges to work. Two studies on the effect of police presence on college drinking done at the University of Rhode Island and the other one at the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Berkeley, CA found out that the police presence led to less students incidents outside campus and fewer cases of heavy drinking (Candon 1). Still, it has to be acknowledged that legal restrictions are seldom of any avail unless they are not supported by parents, educators and media. Moreover, it should be mentioned that his presentation of facts is slightly distorted: policing reduces the number of drunken binges only in public places but it does not affect crime rate (DeJong et al, p 10). We should evaluate the quality of this magazine article according to academic standards because it is written for most for uninformed readers. The author is not quite sure whether his data is valid or not this is why he prefers only to make an overview rather than to propose recommendations.

The most recent study conducted by William DeYoung and other scholars aims to evaluate the effectiveness of various intervention strategies and their findings indicate that interference of the state may be of some assistance; at least it can reduce the level of misdemeanor in the community (DeYoung et al, 8). This article is intended primarily for educators, social workers, psychologists, and probably governmental officials. Again, we have to emphasize the fact that the researchers do not propose clear and concise solution, but they at least help people make informed decisions.

The authors maintain that the community should also be involved in the reduction of college drinking. This can be done through the enforcement of minimum drinking age laws. The police should be vigilant and the parents should educate their children about alcohol and be observant of their behavior. This will help them to notice when their children start consuming alcoholic beverages. An increase in price will make alcohol less affordable..

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Yet, this is not sufficient; the researchers are in agreement with George Dowdall concerning the origins of college drinking. In particular they say that mere prohibition is not enough because students will always be able to break or evade the law. College drinking must no longer appear attractive or glamorous to them. This can be done by limiting the marketing of alcoholic beverages to students. The abundance of alcohol advertisements should be reduced to a minimum. From their perspectives, students will always indulge themselves in binge drinking unless they see different and more promising options (DeYoung et al, p 9). The educators must change “their perceived norms of a typical student” and this may eventually reshape their attitude towards drinking. The date from this investigation may lay the foundations for further prevention of alcohol abuse.


Naturally, these sources are similar in terms of the persuasiveness, accuracy, themes etc. Nonetheless, all the authors strive to help students overcome dangerous dependence on alcohol. They try to warn young generation against this dangerous habit. Yet, we can say that George Dowdall is the most helpful because it is written for a wide range of readers. The author examines a wide range of questions and most importantly proposes more or less prudent strategies. The study conducted by William DeYoung and his co-authors may be of some assistance, but they only overview different prevention strategies, yet they do not suggest any action plan. The same goes for Paul Candons article.

Works cited

Candon, “Paul Dangerous College Drinking: Prevention Is Possible, Studies Suggest.” 2009. Web.

DeJong, W., Larimer, M.E., Wood, M.D., and Hartman, R.”NIAAA’s Rapid Response to College Drinking Problems Initiative: Reinforcing the Use of Evidence-Based Approaches in College Alcohol Prevention. “Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs 16 (2009): 5-11.

Dowdall. G. W. “College Drinking: Reframing a Social Problem” Greenwood Pub Group, 2008.

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