Research suggests young people are likely to drink less if awareness campaigns focus on the benefits of not drinking and how it can be achieved.
Pointing out the advantages of cutting back is more effective than traditional approaches that warn of the risks of heavy drinking, according to a study carried out at the University of Sussex.
The research published this week in the British Journal of Health Psychology, found that university students were more likely to reduce their overall drinking levels if they focused on the benefits, such as more money and better health.
They were also less likely to binge drink if they had imagined strategies for how non-drinking might be achieved – for example, being direct but polite when declining a drink, or choosing to spend time with supportive friends.
Dr Dominic Conroy says:
We focused on students because, in the UK, they remain a group who drink heavily relative to their non-student peers of the same age. Similarly, attitudes about the acceptability of heavy drinking are relatively lenient among students.
Recent campaigns, such as the NHS Change4Life initiative, give good online guidance as to how many units you should be drinking and how many units are in specific drinks.
Our research contributes to existing health promotion advice, which seeks to encourage young people to consider taking ‘dry days’ yet does not always indicate the range of benefits nor suggest how non-drinking can be more successfully ‘managed’ in social situations.
Click on the following link for information about the NHS Change4Life initiative.