Determinants of alcohol intoxication and social responsibility for DUI-risk at university parties

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Virginia Tech


Alcohol abuse among youth and young adults and accompanying undesirable behaviors (e.g., physical aggressiveness, vandalism, date rape, DUI) is a significant public health problem. This field research examined various intervention techniques for reducing excessive alcohol consumption in party settings. Prior to four fraternity parties, students' drinking intentions, lifestyles, and person characteristics (i.e., self-esteem, optimism, personal control, group cohesion, sensation seeking) were measured. Before and after the fraternity parties, students' blood alcohol concentration (BAC) was objectively assessed with a breathalyzer. During the fraternity parties, students' participation in various intervention techniques was systematically observed. The impact of the intervention process for reducing the risk of DUI was assessed with both within-subject and between-subject comparisons. That is, two fraternities and two sororities participated in two successive parties, one with the intervention process and the other as a control (with a balanced AB vs. BA format). It was hypothesized that the intervention techniques would reduce excessive alcohol consumption and DUI risk from comparisons within the same fraternity / sorority and between two different fraternities/sororities. It was also hypothesized that students' behavioral intentions to consume alcohol would predict their subsequent drinking behavior at a party. The intervention phase of the research was not successful in reducing overall intoxication rates at the fraternity parties studied. Students' intentions to consume alcohol, however, was a significant predictor of intoxication rates, accounting for 28 percent of the variance of exit BAC across all parties. Implications of this research for the design of future interventions aimed at curtailing the excessive use of alcohol among young adults are discussed.



DUI, alcohol, intoxication, responsibility, BAC