What comes to mind when you hear the words drugs and death? Illegal narcotics such as heroin and cocaine or the smoking kills campaign for cigarettes? It is, in fact, alcohol, that results in the most deaths globally. Alcohol is produced via the anaerobic fermentation of sugars by yeast; the process involves glucose molecules being broken down to produce ethanol, carbon dioxide and energy (Foster & Marriott, 2006). Alcohol is a depressant which in low doses can cause euphoria and reduce anxiety; excessive drinking, however, can lead to intoxication and more detrimental effects on oneself and others around. There were 339,000 estimated admissions related to alcohol consumption in 2015/16. This is 3 percent higher than 2014/15 and 22 percent higher than 2005/06 (“Statistics on Alcohol, England 2017 – GOV.UK”, 2017). Every person reacts to alcohol differently and the effects vary due to the alcohol tolerance of an individual; dependent drinkers with a higher tolerance to alcohol can drink more without experiencing noticeable effects. After drinking 1-2 units of alcohol, your heart rate speeds up and your blood vessels expand, this causes the warm sensation in your body as well as the sociable and talkative feeling associated with moderate drinking. After drinking 4-6 units, the part of your brain associated with judgement and decision making are affected causing you to be more uninhibited, in addition, impairing the cells in your nervous system affecting your reaction time and coordination. An excess of 12 units could lead to a considerable risk of alcohol poisoning, this occurs when the alcohol interferes with the body’s automatic functions such as: breathing, heart rate and gag reflex. In extreme cases, alcohol poisoning can cause a person to fall into a coma that could also lead to death. Other risks of alcohol misuse include: accidents and injury; violence, antisocial behaviour and unsafe sex. Long-term effects of alcohol misuse, i.e. drinking a large amount of alcohol for many years will not only cause damage to vital organs but also increase blood pressure and blood cholesterol levels leading to a greater risk of heart attacks and strokes. There are also social implications of hazardous drinking such as a family breakup, domestic abuse and financial problems (“Risks”,2017).
Despite the fact that there are health and social risks of excessive alcohol consumption, there are a few benefits to health when drinking alcohol in moderation. Many studies provide support stating that moderate levels of alcohol consumption lead to a reduced risk of coronary heart disease (CHD). A study found a light to moderate alcohol consumption between 1-3 drinks per day decreases the risk of CHD episode compared to abstainers (Foster & Marriot, 2006; Baum-Baicker, 1985). The relationship is seen by the majority as not linear but U-shape (Ashley, Rehm, Bondy, Single & Rankin, 2000) and there have been suggestions for the explanations of this shape. Studies suggest that the inverse relationship is due to alcohol’s effect on increasing high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL); this aids in the removal of cholesterol from the tissue. Other explanations include: associated diet changes in moderate drinkers; silicon content in wine and beer; decreased platelet aggregation and coagulation and the ability to lessen stress and/or personality patterns altered that are associated with CHD risks (Baum-Baicker, 1985). In relation to heart problems, there has also been evidence for low-level consumption offering protection against ischemic heart condition (Ashley, Rehm, Bondy, Single & Rankin, 2000).
Type 2 diabetes is also affected by alcohol consumption as those who consume light to moderate amount of alcohol are associated with a decreased risk (of 30-40%) of type 2 diabetes (Ashley, Rehm, Bondy, Single & Rankin, 2000). Dry non-sweet wines and distilled diluted spirits, in particular, are the recommendation for treatment of diabetes. A reason for this may be due to the alcohol improving glucose tolerance and blood glucose response to ingested carbohydrates (Baum-Baicker, 1985).
Hence, alcohol control is very important when drinking, even though the initial effects can be positive for a person, excessive drinking is dangerous; it should not be relied upon to be an escape from problems as this could lead to alcohol addiction.
Alcohol is consumed by approximately …………. students a year. In terms of alcohol consumption by students, Partington (2010) established that the largest proportion (39%) reported drinking 2-3 times a week, in addition, a typical drinking occasion 21% drank 7-9 drinks and 20% drank 10 drinks or more. While over a third of students in the study (35%) engaged in binge drinking (6 or more drinks on one occasion) on a weekly basis. These results show the extent to which university students drink at a university. While this is not considered a large amount there is a custom known as “fresher’s week” whereby students, a week prior to officially starting university, go out clubbing and tend to have no restraints on alcohol consumption. In the news recently, it was found that York University students in halls boasted of an ambulance chart, whereby numerous members of this chart were in fact hospitalised during that week for varying incidents. (Turner,2017). This chart not only effects the person intoxicated but also the emergency services, the emergency services must allocate time to look after those who have voluntarily put themselves in harm’s way due to sheer negligence. Comparatively, university students generally are known to have “chunder charts” and “promiscuity charts” during fresher’s week. These charts do not only encourage excessive alcohol consumption but also encourage unnecessary risks and damage to your body and health.
During time at university there are an abundance of societies which students can join, it a chance for pupils of all years and courses who share similar passions to come together and unite over their interest. It is also a chance for those who are slightly more reserved to experience new hobbies to further their university and overall life experience. Those in societies particularly sports societies take freshers week one step further and have created a weekly indulgence whereby students meet in their societies on a particular day and start drinking from early evening till early hours of the morning. The societies tend to meet up together at one venue or multiple venues prior to arriving at one destination and enjoy the night together, usually creating a theme dress code and punishments to those either late or not correctly dressed. While it enables a stronger sense of bond within the society and allows a greater sense of cohesion within a team; there is a chance for those students to have little regard for their health and safety.
There is some research suggesting little difference between alcohol consumed by athletes and non-athletes (Overman & Terry, 1991). However, overwhelming evidence suggests that athletes in university drink significantly more than non-athletes. Yusko, Buckman, White and Pandina (2008) compared prevalence and pattern of substance use in undergraduate student-athletes and non-athletes for 1 year; 418 males and 475 females. They found male athletes were at high risk for heavy drinking and there were fluctuations of substance use for in and out-of-season for male and female athletes. Self-report questionnaires were administered to assess prevalence, quantity and frequency of alcohol use. Furthermore, Leichliter, Meilman, Presley and Cashin (1998) studied alcohol use, binge drinking, substance abuse related consequences among students with varying levels of participation in university sports. 51,483 students at 125 institutions answered questions about involvement in athletics, on the long form of Core Alcohol and Drug survey. They found both male and female athletes consumed significantly more alcohol per week, engaged in binge drinking more often and suffered more adverse consequences from substance abuse. Partington (2010) also compared students who participated in sport, to students who did not and found that those who participated in university sport showed a significantly higher mean AUDIT score and a higher proportion classified as having an alcohol use disorder. Athletes also reported drinking more frequently and in larger quantities. 1st-year students also had a significantly higher mean AUDIT score than 3rd-year students. Even prior to university, Rainey, McKeown, Sargent and Valois (1996) found that even in 9th to 12th-grade students, highly active athletes drank more frequently than low-activity non-athletes and sedentary nonathletes and the athletic youth are at increased risk of binge drinking. They suggested considering factors such as risk-taking tendencies of athletes.
In the previous research, there were factors that were considered constituting to an increase in alcohol consumption. There has also been other research that has touched on a few other factors that may lead to an increase such as Sonderlund et al. (2014) suggests higher rates of alcohol and violence among athletic populations compared to non-athletes. Masculinity, violent social identity and anti-social norms are potential factors that may affect alcohol consumption and why athletes consume more than non-athletes. While Wechsler et al. (1997) found the strongest predictors were those athletes that were in a society, party lifestyle or engaged in other risky behaviours. Depression and anxiety were thought to be a factor, those who had had high anxiety and high alcohol consumption, although, it was concluded that the two variables were not correlated and the main reason for alcohol consumption was pleasure (Webb, Ashton, Kelly & Kamali, 1996).
Even though there is vast research on alcohol consumption there is little research on reasons for alcohol consumption as factors have not seen to be crucial. There have been reasons suggested as seen in the above studies however not conclusive. There has also been research that athletes drink more than non-athletes in university yet no research as to why this is the case.
In this study, the aims are: to find out the reasons why athletes drink more than non-athletes; whether the year at university influences the amount of alcohol consumed by athletes and non-athletes and whether drinking with a sports society influences alcohol consumption. There will also be an insight as to factors that contribute to an increase in alcohol consumption within athletes and among general students. This will not include all the factors that contribute as all individuals have different reasons, however, this study will show if there are global factors shared and whether factors suggested are elicit reasons.
This research will be conducted using 60 participants …. male and ….. female. The average age of participants was ……. Participants will be recruited from an online participation pool provided by the Department of Portsmouth University specifically for first-year psychology students as well as volunteer sample for those in another other course and other years. An athlete is defined as university students that take part in university sports societies and attend the training sessions minimum 3 times a month or if they participate in sports to a higher level such as national or international. A non-athlete is a university student that does not partake in any university sports societies or sport at any level. An Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS) questionnaire will be used to determine the extent the participant associates with the role of an athlete whether they take participation in sports seriously or as a pass time more of a social gathering. The nature of the study is revealed to the participants as an online study with questions associated with sport and alcohol. The duration of the questionnaire was mentioned to the participants of approximately 10 minutes to complete beforehand.
An online questionnaire will be administered with a participant information sheet and a consent form at the beginning of the questionnaire. The participant information sheet briefly outlines the study and purpose as well as contact details should they wish to withdraw their data. A debrief will be sent to participants after the study is completed. This questionnaire will include an Alcohol Use Disorders Identification Test (AUDIT) questionnaire, Drinking Expectancy Questionnaire (DEQ), Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS), these were used in previous studies by Partington (2010) as well as a few questions directed on reasons for ingesting alcohol. Questions such as “1. How often do you have a drink containing alcohol? 2. How many drinks containing alcohol do you have on a typical day when you are drinking?” were used in this study. The full extent of the questionnaire can be seen in appendix 1. The questionnaire was created using the Qualtrics software with login provided by the University of Portsmouth. This software also records all the data of completed questionnaires.
Alcohol Use Disorder Identification Test (AUDIT)
This questionnaire is widely used to detect alcohol use disorders among sample populations especially those at college. This is supported by Kokotailo et al. used AUDIT to identify high risk drinking and found that the 20 AUDIT had “reasonable psychometric properties”. It was also used in a study conducted by Partington et al. (2010) for athletes and non-athletes at a university. The validity and reliability of the AUDIT questionnaire has been established by many studies (Reinert & Allen, 2007). The studies to support this compared scores on AUDIT when implanted in a primary health questionnaire to a single scale AUDIT completed at a later point (Daeppen, Yersin, Landry, Pé coud & Decrey, 2000). The study found that 84.2% of participants with a score over 8, indicative of dangerous drinking (Conigrave, Hall & Saunders, 1995, Reinert & Allen, 2002), had an identical score 6 weeks later (Daeppen et al., 2000). With regards to women the suggested cut of point is 7 as women are more susceptible to risks of alcohol consumption than men. (Bradley et al., 1998). The AUDIT questionnaire also had a Cronbach alpha value of .83 showing most questions are related to what the questionnaire hopes to find and the re-test score was r.81 (Daeppen et al., 2000).
Drinking Expectancy Questionnaire (DEQ)
This questionnaire was developed by Young & Knight, 1989 to identify what participants seek to gain from drinking. DEQ subscales focused on are: assertion, affective change, dependence, sexual enhancement, cognitive change and tension reduction. This particular tool enables both positive and negative outcomes of alcohol consumption to be determined, whereas, previous measures only established positive outcomes. The questionnaire was tested on a sample of college students and a sample of community where a high Cronbach alpha for each of the outcomes was established, with the mean Cronbach alpha value for students being 0.73. The study was able to show that all of the factors included in the questionnaire were reliable factors at determining alcohol expectancy except aggression. The questionnaire has been used in research by Partington et al. (2010) to determine drinking among athletes and non-athletes in college as the questionnaire exhibits both reliability and validity.
Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS)
A measure of how strongly participants identify with the role of an athlete (Brewer et al., 1993). Respondents asked to indicate on a 7-point Likert scale the extent to which they agree or disagree to each statement regarding their participation in sport. The total scores range from 10 to 70 with 10 used to indicate highest identification with an athlete role and 70 to indicate the lowest. When testing the validity and reliability of the questionnaire a Cronbach alpha of 0.93 and a test re-test coefficient of 0.89 was found when taken twice over a 14 day period. It was also the more consistent measure than Perceived Importance Profile and Physical Self-Perception Profile; other tools that measure that measure athletic identity (Brewer et al., 1993). The validity and reliability was proven in the study conducted by Lamont-Mills and Christensen where they compared athletic identity among elite, recreational and non-participants in sport from a student population and was used in the study by Partington et al. (2010) to test attitudes for athletic identity among athletes and non-athletes when consuming alcohol.
Each participant was administered the online questionnaire. The online questionnaire contains the consent form which must be signed before starting the questions. There is the initial demographic questionnaire followed by AIMS, AUDIT and DEQ with a few other questions on influences of alcohol consumption. The presence of the experimenter was not necessary as it was an online questionnaire. Those in first-year psychology at Portsmouth were then rewarded with 0.5 credits for their participation. Everyone that completed the questionnaire was then given a debrief which included the true nature of the study and were thanked for their participation.
A multiple regression and Pearson coefficient correlations will be used to analyse the data.