Objectives: This study examined long-term response to an individual preventive intervention for high-risk college drinkers relative to the natural history of college drinking.
Methods: A single-session, individualized preventive intervention was evaluated within a randomized controlled trial with college freshmen who reported drinking heavily while in high school. An additional group randomly selected from the entire screening pool provided a normative comparison. Participant self-report was assessed annually for 4 years.
Results: High-risk controls showed secular trends for reduced drinking quantity and negative consequences without changes in drinking frequency. Those receiving the brief preventive intervention reported significant additional reductions, particularly with respect to negative consequences. Categorical individual change analyses show that remission is normative, and they suggest that participants receiving the brief intervention are more likely to improve and less likely to worsen regarding negative drinking consequences.
Conclusions: Brief individual preventive interventions for high-risk college drinkers can achieve long-term benefits even in the context of maturational trends.