A team of our (smart) researchers from SMAHRT descended on Washington, D.C. last weekend for the Pediatric Academic Societies annual meeting. SMAHRT = Social Media and Adolescent Health Research Team, which is based at Seattle Children’s Research Institute. This week, we’ll feature some of their new research. Megan Moreno, MD, leads the group and is a senior author on all of the research studies. Some of the researchers are based at other academic institutions, demonstrating the collaborative spirit of SMAHRT.

Hand rejects a glass of beer

Drinking is a common activity among college students, and excessive alcohol consumption has negative consequences such as unintentional injuries and assault. College freshmen are an interesting group to observe from a research angle, as heavy drinking increases significantly from pre-college to the first semester of college.

Why do college freshmen start to drink?

Most freshmen are on their own for the first time, with increased freedom and independence. They want to fit in with new friends who drink, or they may turn to alcohol to cope with stressful situations in a new environment. Students who were heavy drinkers in high school have been found to be especially at risk in college for heavy drinking and experiencing related negative consequences.

What happens to those students who enter college planning to refrain from drinking? Do they stay away from alcohol as they had planned, or do they give in to peer pressure and change their minds about drinking? If so, do they drink heavily or just socially?

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