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J Stud Alcohol. 2003 Sep;64(5):696-703.

Heavy drinking and alcohol policy enforcement in a statewide public college system.

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  • 1Department of Medicine, Center for Adolescent Substance Abuse Research, Children's Hospital Boston, 300 Longwood Avenue, Boston, Massachusetts 02115, USA.



To assess the association between heavy drinking and alcohol policy enforcement following the institution of a new system-wide alcohol policy at Massachusetts public colleges and universities.


Students (N = 1,252: 59% women) at 11 study schools completed a questionnaire that assessed drinking behaviors and alcohol-associated problems. College deans and campus security officers completed questionnaires assessing policy implementation and enforcement. We compared heavy drinking rates among the 11 schools and measured the association between schools' heavy episodic drinking rates and enforcement index scores based on deans' and security officers' reports of policy enforcement.


Rates of heavy episodic drinking varied widely among the 11 schools (range: 36%-71%). The percentage of students reporting strict/very strict policy enforcement also varied widely (35%-90%). In this small sample of colleges, heavy drinking rates among students living on campus tended to be negatively associated with stricter alcohol policy enforcement reports by security officers (Pearson's r = -0.64. p < .05) and the association appeared to be linear. Heavy drinking was not associated with enforcement reports by deans (Pearson's r = 0.17, p = NS).


Within this single state system, stricter enforcement by campus security officers of policies that limit underage drinking tends to be associated with lower rates of heavy drinking by students.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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