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Examples of Early and Brief Interventions

Glossary of Terms:

Cognitive-behavioral Skills Training: Changes an individualís beliefs about alcohol using activities, such as changing alcohol expectancies, documenting consumption, and managing stress.

Norms Clarification: Changes studentsí perceptions by providing them with data to counter their beliefs about the acceptability of drinking behavior on college campuses.

Motivational Interviewing/Enhancement: Non-judgmental and non-confrontational feedback about an individual studentís drinking behavior and related risks.

Challenging Alcohol Expectancies: Refutes myths that alcohol can yield positive physical and social outcomes.

Choosing a Web-based Program

Suggestions for choosing an online, early intervention that is right for your campus.

The following programs incorporate the NIAAA recommended strategies for effective early intervention: cognitive-behavioral skills enhancement combined with norms clarification and motivational enhancement, personalized feedback regarding alcohol use and associated risk, and challenging alcohol expectancies. Utilizing a harm-reduction approach, these early interventions aim to motivate students to decrease alcohol-related risk and harm.

In-person Early Interventions

While certain elements of these programs may be completed as take-home activities or online, the following interventions are generally delivered face-to-face, by a trained practitioner.

Alcohol Skills Training Program (ASTP) was created by the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington. The ASTP was originally presented in eight, 90-minute sessions, but the schedule is flexible and can be adjusted to suit a particular site. During the ASTP practitioners facilitate group discussions around alcohol abuse and dependence issues, providing accurate information about the consequences of alcohol use. Practitioners use motivational enhancement to diminish risky behavior and teach students skills for avoiding alcohol and setting drinking limits. Numerous randomized, controlled trials demonstrate the effectiveness of the program in reducing both the quantity of alcohol consumed per drinking occasion and the typical peak blood alcohol content (BAC) per drinking episode.

Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS) is a program derived from ASTP and uses a similar blend of strategies. BASICS is a one-on-one intervention conducted in two sessions. The first session consists of a structured clinical interview followed by a student self-report assessment of drinking patterns, attitudes, and alcohol-related consequences. During the second session, the student is presented with the results of their assessment in a non-confrontational manner. Multiple randomized, controlled trials indicate that students who have received BASICS drink less and experience fewer negative consequences when they do choose to drink. These effects remain significant over the months and years following the intervention.

CHOICES was developed using the core principles of ASTP. In this brief group intervention (one or two sessions lasting a total of three hours or less), information about alcohol and related risks is combined with a structured journaling process. In practice, CHOICES has been used as a universal prevention program, as a first response for sanctioned students (indicated prevention) and as a mandatory program for target populations such as fraternities/sororities, athletes, and incoming freshmen (selective prevention). As a variation of ASTP, an evidence-based practice, CHOICES is effective in reducing levels of alcohol consumption and alcohol related harms.

Web-based Early Interventions

Online and web-based prevention and intervention programming can be useful for serving a larger segment of the at-risk population. As part of a comprehensive approach, and incorporating NIAAA recommended strategies, these interventions can effectively reduce heavy drinking and related consequences without face to face interaction.

AlcoholEdu is an interactive assessment and personalized feedback tool for college students. This three-hour online program also provides information on the social, physical, and biological effects of alcohol use. AlcoholEdu offers specialized curricula focusing on the general college population and sanctioned students, with an additional course presented in a brief motivational interviewing style available to purchasers of AlcoholEdu. Limited evidence suggests that AlcoholEdu may produce slight changes in attitude and behavior.

Check Up To Go (CHUG) is a brief, drinking behavior assessment and feedback tool. A student can take the CHUG in a paper-and-pencil format or online (e-CHUG). The CHUG/e-CHUG method of feedback delivery employs motivational interviewing in concert with personalized feedback derived from the assessment to encourage a student to reduce his or her alcohol consumption and related risk. In one randomized, controlled study, e-CHUG significantly reduced the average drink consumption per week in male college students.

myStudentBody.com is an interactive website containing modules specific to alcohol, other drugs, tobacco, STDs, stress, and nutrition. The alcohol portion utilizes a BASICS-derived risk-assessment tool called Rate Myself. Using the results of this assessment, immediate personalized feedback on the student’s alcohol use, beliefs, and consequences is presented in graphic form. myStudentBody.com also provides information to students about a variety of alcohol-related issues such as drug interactions, financial impacts, and state alcohol laws and policies. In a randomized, controlled, clinical trial myStudentBody participants reported decreases in heavy episodic drinking and fewer negative consequences related to alcohol. These effects were sustained through a three month follow up.


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