This study examined the long-term response to an individual preventive intervention for high risk college drinkers compared to the natural history of college drinking.
A single session, individualized preventive intervention was evaluated within a randomized controlled trial with college freshmen who reported drinking heavily while in high school. An additional group randomly selected from the entire screening pool provided a normative comparison. Participant self-report was assessed annually for 4 years. The overall conclusion of the study is that brief individual preventive interventions for high risk college drinkers can achieve long term benefits even in the context of maturational trends. High risk controls showed secular trends for reduced drinking quantity and negative consequences without changes in drinking frequency. Those receiving the brief preventive intervention reported significant additional reductions, particularly regarding negative consequences. Categorical individual change analyses show that remission was normative, and they suggest that participants who received the brief intervention were more likely to improve and less likely to worsen regarding negative drinking consequences. 2 tables, 1 figure, and 43 references