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Alcohol-induced blackouts and other alcohol-related consequences as moderators of brief motivational intervention outcomes

Dunn, Delaney Shannon
Introduction: Heavy drinking among college students remains an issue within the United States. Past research has found that recent negative experiences with alcohol-related consequences, such as alcohol-induced blackouts, can serve as "teachable moments" and enhance the efficacy of personal feedback interventions (PFIs) in reducing future drinking behaviors (Miller et al., 2018b). Thus, the purpose of the current study was to better understand how the recent experience of an alcohol-induced blackout and other alcohol-related consequences influenced the relationship between receiving a PFI and future drinking behaviors assessed at follow-up.
Method: Undergraduate students from two archival samples of heavy drinkers (N = 142 in one study, N = 157 in the second study) from a large, Southern Plains university completed studies assessing the effectiveness of a computer program called the Drinking Assessment and Feedback Tool for College Students (DrAFT-CS). Participants completed measures pertaining to drinks per week, recent experience of alcohol-related consequences and peak drinking episodes within the last month at both baseline and follow-up assessments.
Results: Multiple hierarchical linear regression analyses revealed that the recent experience of an alcohol-induced blackout or of six other pertinent alcohol-related consequences (e.g., XX, XX) did not significantly moderate the relationship between receiving a PFI and future drinking behavior assessed at follow-up.
Discussion: The current study demonstrated that the recent experience of certain alcohol-related consequences can increase the effectiveness of brief interventions in samples of college students who engage in heavy drinking. Future research should assess whether these same findings hold true for mandated samples, and it should continue to investigate whether heavy drinking college student samples evaluate alcohol-related consequences differently than average and light drinking samples.