This study challenges old saws about negative consequences attributed to alcohol use. Previous research findings associate negative social and behavioral consequences with alcohol consumption, as if college students only do regrettable things when they are drunk. Typical research related to negative consequences and alcohol use relies on retrospective self-reporting. Investigators often frame negative consequences as outcomes of problematic drinking or, as more commonly labeled, "binge drinking." In the nomenclature of prevention, binge drinking is not a direct measure of alcohol use resulting in intoxication; it is a hypothetical tipping point, predicting an increased likelihood of the incidence of negative consequences at some (often unspecified) point in the path between "sober" and "drunk". It is obvious that social and behavioral distress and misbehavior are not limited to drinking. Students miss class, express regrets, say or do embarrassing things, and get injured while sober as well as while drinking. Contemporary measures of alcohol-related negative consequences do not typically control for the prevalence of negative consequences when respondents are sober as well as when they are drinking. Thus it is unclear if the association between drinking and negative consequences is exclusively attributable to alcohol consumption, as is frequently assumed. Self-reported alcohol-related negative consequences might reflect a priori attitudes, beliefs, and behaviors and be unrelated to drinking. The prevalence of social complications unassociated with drinking merits investigation. A better understanding of the overall prevalence of negative consequences is needed to test the notion that drinking, binge drinking in particular, leads to numerous negative consequences presently reported in the alcohol studies literature.
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Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.)
College of Sciences
Length of Campus-only Access
Doctoral Dissertation (Open Access)
Hall, Thomas, "Rethinking Drinking: A Paradigm Shift for Estimating Social and Behavioral Harm" (2016). Electronic Theses and Dissertations. 4939.