Sharon Jaysen of USA Today has an interesting article on the  failure of education to have an impact on intoxication and binge drinking:

Colleges trying to stem the tide of student drinking have focused on the evils of intoxication and all the trouble that can ensue when students drink too much. But new psychological research suggests that the downsides of excessive drinking aren’t bad enough to make students stop.

“They intend to get intoxicated,” says psychologist E. Scott Geller, director of the Center for Applied Behavior Systems at Virginia Tech.

“We have shown in several studies that their intentions influence their behavior. If they intend to get drunk, it’s difficult to stop that.”

Geller, who has been studying alcohol awareness since the mid-1980s, notes that education hasn’t worked.

“We thought if we could demonstrate to students that their performance deteriorated under alcohol, they would be convinced that their alcohol consumption has put them at risk,” Geller says. But “knowing that one is impaired, physically and even emotionally, did not seem to reduce alcohol consumption.”

Researchers even tried using Breathalyzers at parties and bars to show students their blood alcohol content.

“It actually encouraged them to drink more,” says Geller, whose research team presented findings earlier this month at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association in Washington, D.C.

“I think everybody’s aim is to get drunk on the weekend,” says Brandie Pugh, 22, a senior at Ohio University in Athens. “It’s not about the taste of the alcohol. It’s about the effects of it. It’s about the lowered inhibitions.”

Colleges need to “acknowledge and reckon with” alcohol’s appeal, says Laina Bay-Cheng, an associate professor of social work at the University at Buffalo-State University of New York, who also presented research at the meeting. In focus groups with 97 young people ages 14 to 17, she found that when teenagers drink, they think they can blame their actions on alcohol.

Students in her studies described alcohol as emboldening and said it offers “liquid courage,” a phrase other researchers also have cited.

Drinking allows young women to “act out being sexually assertive, carefree, liberated,” she says, and can be an excuse for their sexual behavior.

“If you have sex, you’re a slut, and if you don’t, you’re a prude — but drinking allows you to do both,” she says. “You can go out, get drunk, have sex and the next day say, ‘I’m still a good girl.'”

Pugh says she has observed that sentiment on campus. “‘I was drunk so I hooked up with that guy.’ ‘I was drunk so I missed my class this morning.’ ‘I was drunk so I got in a fight.’ If it’s something they’re not proud of, it gives them an excuse.”

Keep reading.

This  is an example of  what happens when you try to modify behavior through education. It doesn’t work. Behavior modification comes through a heart transplant.

When your heart is devoted to pleasing and honoring God in word and in deed (Colossians 3:17) your behavior models what you say you believe.

The issue of drinking for teens and college students is that drinking has become their functional “savior”. It’s where they find acceptance, it’s where they find community, and it’s where they try to find happiness.

A relationship with Christ, fulfills these needs and many more, but their has been few examples that model it for them. Most churches and this world  preach behavior modification and legalism, but the heart of the matter is that true change comes from the heart. If it were all about keeping a set of rules or following some guidelines to be happy and fulfilled there would be no need for a relationship with Christ. We could all be our own saviors and what we wanted to do would be our redemption.

Thankfully, we’re not good enough and we need someone who is good enough to cover our short comings and failures.

Learn how to begin a relationship with Christ and watch your behavior change to where He becomes your Savior.






About Chuck Mullis

I am the husband of Valerie and the father of Russell & Hannah. I am a self-employed contractor living in rural North Carolina as well as an ordained Southern Baptist Minister serving Living Water Baptist Church.

5 responses »

  1. College & Other Pesky Things says:

    Education has proven to be effective in so many circumstances.

    When was the last time you had polio? Well, that was because the public was educated on how it was communicable and then educated on vaccines.

    When was the last time you had AIDS? That is because the public in now educated on what AIDS is and knows, an practices, methods to prevent it.

    When was the last time you saved a dowry for when you married your eldest daughter off? Education has shown that women are indeed not items that can be part of a bargain.

    When was the last time you used leaches to clean any “bad blood” you may be experiencing? We now know that bleeding does not cure “consumption” and “the vapors”, so we don’t put little, blood-sucking creatures on our bodies.

    When was the last time your wife held your baby on her lap during a car ride? That would be because public education has showed us the importance of using car seats for infants.

    To blame every poor decision on not being a Christian is ridiculous. How do we explain the perfectly content, happy, educated, well-rounded individuals who practice another religion, or maybe no religion at all? Jesus Chirst isn’t their “savior”, and yet they don’t seem to be living the perils of an ungodly lifestyle. They are happy and content. Maybe this is because not everyone needs your savior?

    Alcoholism is a disease, not punishment for not being close enough to YOUR god.

    (Note that I say “your”, because many others feel as strongly of their god as you do about your’s. What makes your’s right and their’s wrong? Please don’t say “the bible says so”. Their religious texts say so, too).

    • Chuck Mullis says:

      Thank you for taking the time to comment. Few people ever challenge what they read.
      I agree that alcoholism is a disease, but the context of this article was about the behavior of individuals who choose to binge drink and party.

      “We have shown in several studies that their intentions influence their behavior. If they intend to get drunk, it’s difficult to stop that.”

      I am also not against education, but I don’t need to be constantly reminded that there are things out there that are dangerous. I don’t need to be educated that walking on a cliff’s edge could kill me, or running with scissors could injure me.

      It comes down to the individual making the choice, which they have the freedom to do, to choose either poorly or wisely. What I believe in my heart,is what I am going to choose to follow. If I believe that there is something to gain by getting wasted, I will choose to believe that and follow through. If I believe the Bible, which says there is nothing to gain from being drunk, than I choose to abstain. I either choose to follow the crowd or choose to follow the One who created me.
      The context in which I write on this blog is for Christians and regardless of belief there has to be a standard for which we believe something, for those of us who place our trust in Christ, we follow His Word.

      I am also aware that not everyone believes in God, and that too is a result of their choosing.

      Thanks again for your thoughts.

  2. Slamdunk says:

    Well argued and I enjoyed the thoughtful debate in the comments.

    I think the same can be said about making thing illegal–if the behavior is a place where folks are drawn to and feel good, the threat of punishment or education will have little effect for deterrence. Now connect them spiritually and they realize how hurtful the behavior is and you have something.

  3. College & Other Pesky Things says:

    I just have one last thing to add. Binge drinking IS alcoholism.

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