University students' perspectives on their preventive strategies to limit alcohol and cannabis use in festive contexts
Consequences for students related to binge drinking and risky cannabis use during festive university events (FUE) remain concerning. Substance use is notably linked with engaging in risky behaviors. Students' perspective regarding the strategies they use to minimize those risks could help better understand the phenomenon and develop adapted preventive strategies (PS). This study aims to document the PS that students use to limit binge drinking, risky cannabis use and risky behaviors at FUE before and since the COVID pandemic. Qualitative semi-structured online interviews, based on descriptive-interpretative design, were conducted with university students aged between 18 and 25 years old who had engaged in binge drinking or adopted a risky cannabis conduct at a FUE before or since the pandemic. Data collection is still ongoing until April 2022, aiming for a total of 18 participants. Preliminary horizontal and vertical thematic data analysis were conducted.
Preliminary results show that some participants use PS to raise their awareness and limit their drinking (e.g. bringing a certain number of drinks, Sharpie dots to count the number of drinks). Risky sex was identified by all participants as a possible risky conduct happening in FUE. Several students stated that if an FUE is held at a bar, high alcohol prices are an incentive to limit their number of drinks. Since the transition towards virtual FUE, some students mentioned that they stopped using some of the PS because risky behaviors are generally less common at home.
This study sheds some light on the main PS used by university students to prevent consequences related to alcohol and cannabis use, and on the influence of the pandemic on FUE. This will help the development of preventive interventions for students, which can be adapted for FUE’s changing nature since the pandemic.