What affects college students’ decision to intervene or not intervene when someone is drinking too much?

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2 Scopus citations


Objective: Medical amnesty policies aim to encourage individuals to help their peers who have been drinking too much by providing immunity for alcohol policy violations. We examined college students’ decisions to intervene or not intervene when someone was drinking too much and reasons for not intervening. Method: We conducted secondary analyses using data from college students ages 18–25 who participated in the Healthy Minds Study, a national survey of mental health and substance use (N = 30,785; 65% female). We examined the prevalence of reasons for not intervening and estimated a multilevel multinomial logistic regression to answer our research questions. Results: Nearly half (46.5%) of students reported being in at least one situation in the past year when someone was drinking too much. Among these students, 46.7% consistently intervened, 27.7% inconsis-tently intervened, and 25.6% did not intervene in these situations. The most common reasons for not intervening were: “I felt it was none of my business” and “I didn’t know what to do.” “I was afraid I’d get in trouble” was the least common reason for not intervening. Intervening differed by student characteristics, including age, gender, race/ethnicity, residence, international student status, and binge drinking. Conclusions: Fear of getting in trouble, the basis for amnesty policies, was not a major barrier preventing intervention behavior in our study. Our findings suggest that implementing amnesty policies may not lead to intervention behavior. Strategies that empower and compel students to help their peers and provide them with skills needed to help may lead to more intervention behavior.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)310-313
Number of pages4
JournalJournal of studies on alcohol and drugs
Issue number3
StatePublished - 2019

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This research was funded by the University of Minnesota. The authors acknowledge and thank Dr. Daniel Eisenberg and the Healthy Minds Network Team for access to the Healthy Minds data.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2019, Alcohol Research Documentation Inc. All rights reserved.


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