Heterosocial Anxiety Intervention for Excessive Alcohol Users in College: A Bibliotherapy Approach
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Alcohol use continues to grow at an alarming rate in college students despite serious health risks and numerous attempts to implement effective prevention programs. Many interventions are costly, time-consuming, and unappealing to young adults. Social anxiety is conceptualized as contributing to alcohol use but research has been unable to show a clear relationship between these two factors. The purpose of this study was to evaluate the effects of a brief self-help book on alcohol use with college students reporting elevated drinking rates and heterosocial anxiety. The self-help book was written by the principal investigator and William O'Donohue, Ph.D. and utilized cognitive-behavioral techniques for reducing heterosocial anxiety, or anxiety caused by opposite sex interactions, in a casual and interactive format. Over 500 undergraduate students were screened for participation and 49 were randomly assigned to read the self-help book or a wait-list control condition. Participants completed several dependent measures at the beginning and end of a five week period. Results showed significant differences for the self-help group in terms of alcohol use, heterosocial anxiety, and heterosocial competence. The self-help group also demonstrated significant between group differences for heterosocial competence and heterosexual interactions. No significant changes were found in the self-help group for alcohol-related problems or binge drinking. Results, study limitations and implications for alcohol research with college students are discussed.