The Journal of Primary Prevention

, Volume 40, Issue 4, pp 429–448 | Cite as

Volunteerism, Alcohol Beliefs, and First-Year College Students’ Drinking Behaviors: Implications for Prevention

  • Lizabeth A. Crawford
  • Katherine B. NovakEmail author
  • Rasitha R. Jayasekare
Original Paper


First-year students of traditional college age often drink irresponsibly, especially if they believe that alcohol use is integral to the college experience. Individuals who subscribe to this view embrace their transitional status, recognize that they have relatively few role obligations, and thus regard the college years as the timeframe for drinking. Volunteerism, which places additional constraints on students’ behaviors by facilitating their integration into mature adult society and increasing social responsibility, may be an avenue for reducing levels of alcohol consumption among this subgroup. Numerous studies have found an inverse relationship between involvement in service and levels of alcohol consumption among college undergraduates. Data from a prospective survey administered to a cohort of first-year students of traditional college age at the beginning, and again at the end of the fall semester, was used to assess the relationship between volunteerism, alcohol beliefs, and drinking behavior (n = 423). Zero inflated negative binomial regressions indicated that alcohol beliefs moderated the effects of participation in volunteer/service activities on the frequency of alcohol use and heavy drinking. In particular, there was a strong negative relationship between volunteerism and heavy drinking among first-year students who believed that the use of alcohol was integral to the college experience. This suggests that engaging first-year students with permissive alcohol beliefs in service activities is a way to curb their drinking early, by the end of the first college semester, before it becomes a more long-term pattern.


College drinking Prevention Volunteerism Service activities Student status Alcohol beliefs Liminality Social capital Emerging adults 



There was no external funding for this study.

Compliance With Ethical Standards

Conflict of Interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical Approval

All procedures performed in this study were in accordance with the ethical standards of the university’s institutional review board.

Informed Consent

Informed consent was obtained from all participants included in the study.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lizabeth A. Crawford
    • 1
  • Katherine B. Novak
    • 2
    Email author
  • Rasitha R. Jayasekare
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Sociology, Criminology and Social WorkBradley UniversityPeoriaUSA
  2. 2.Department of Sociology and CriminologyButler UniversityIndianapolisUSA
  3. 3.Department of Mathematics, Statistics and Actuarial ScienceButler UniversityIndianapolisUSA

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