Feds Spend $36,913 Texting College Kids Not to Drink So Much on Their 21st Birthday

Researchers work to change ‘perceived birthday drinking norms’

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The National Institutes of Health is spending over $35,000 sending text messages to college students urging them not to drink too much on their 21st birthday.

"Twenty-first birthdays are associated with very heavy patterns of alcohol use that exceed any other specific event (i.e. New Year's Eve, St. Patrick's Day)," according to the grant, which was awarded to the University of Rhode Island. "Even though 21st birthdays convey heavy risk for excessive drinking and alcohol-related problems, few preventive interventions have been tested."

"The proposed study tests the efficacy of a low-cost intervention to reduce 21st birthday drinking that could be disseminated across college campuses with relatively modest resources," the grant said.

The agency is spending $36,913 on the study, which will send texts to roughly 30 college students turning 21 during the 2016-17 school year.

Participating college students will receive text messages the day before and on their birthday telling them to take it easy on the hooch. The students will also receive a follow-up text the next day asking them how much they drank.

The researchers hope their text message intervention will bring "changes in perceived 21st birthday drinking norms."

"No other study has examined the feasibility of text messaging as an intervention modality for event level alcohol use," according to the project’s grant.

But the National Institutes of Health has already invested heavily into sending text messages to drunks. The agency has now spent $674,590 on a Columbia University study that texts "problem drinkers" who have three to four drinks a night but are still employed. The texts tell functioning alcoholics to "keep on trucking."

Elizabeth Harrington   Email Elizabeth | Full Bio | RSS
Elizabeth Harrington is a staff writer for the Washington Free Beacon. Elizabeth graduated from Temple University in 2010. Prior to joining the Free Beacon, she worked as a staff writer for CNSNews.com. Her email address is elizabeth@freebeacon.com. Her Twitter handle is @LizWFB.

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