Alcohol Skills Training Program
What is ASTP?
The Alcohol Skills Training Program (ASTP) was developed by the Addictive Behaviors Research Center at the University of Washington. The goal of the program is to provide individuals with information about alcohol use and addiction and teach skills for avoiding, resisting, and setting limits on alcohol use. The traditional ASTP format uses eight ninety-minute sessions that provide information about alcohol use and facilitate group discussions to help participants craft a plan to reduce their alcohol consumption. The program draws upon cognitive-behavioral self-management strategies, the use of motivational enhancement techniques, and the use of harm reduction principles. (“Examples of Early and Brief Interventions,” n.d.).
ASTP is typically administered to students considered at-risk for alcohol-related problems following an alcohol-related policy violation. The course is also used preventatively for high-risk drinking groups, such as athletic teams or members of Greek letter organizations. For example, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity administers ASTP to its fraternity chapters. SAE worked with an alcohol prevention consultant to adapt the traditional, eight ninety-minute session format into six sessions tailored for the group’s needs.
Each ASTP session consists of a presentation followed by group discussion. Group members monitor their alcohol use with a written record. and may also participate in role playing exercise. The course also includes a placebo drinking experience in a simulated bar setting intended to address students’ alcohol expectancies.
Although there is limited research on the efficacy of ASTP, the two studies that have examined the program have found it to be associated with reductions in alcohol consumption (Baer at al., 1992; Kivlahan et al., 1990). One study demonstrated reductions in drinks per month and peak BAC levels among ASTP participants, and reductions were maintained at a two-year follow-up (Baer et al., 1992).
Issues and considerations
When administering ASTP, it is essential that campuses track student behavior change over time. Many campuses distribute follow-up surveys months and even years after administering ASTP. A campus may explore other data-collection mechanisms such as judicial reports (i.e. to track repeat offenses) or ER transports to assess whether a student’s drinking-related behaviors have been modified after completing ASTP.
There are also a number of ways to creatively administer ASTP to reduce associated costs. Many campuses have employed students or peer educators to administer ASTP. The Sigma Alpha Epsilon fraternity recruits and trains alumni volunteers to serve as ASTP moderators to meet Greek-affiliated students “on their own ground” (Rus, Z. & Kilmer, J., n.d.).
Baer, J.S., Marlatt, A., Kivlahan, D.R., Fromme, K., Larimer, M.E., & Williams, E. (1992). An experimental test of three methods of alcohol risk reduction with young adults. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 60(6), 974-979.
Examples of Early and Brief Interventions (n.d.). The Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse and Violence Protection. Retrieved October 20. 2014 from http://www.campushealthandsafety.org/effectiveprevention/eit/earlyintervention/examples/
Kivlahan, D.R., Marlatt, G.A., Fromme, K., Coppel, D.B., & Williams, E. (1990). Secondary prevention with college drinkers: Evaluation of an alcohol skills training program. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 58(6), 805-810. Parks, G.A. (2006).
Individual Alcohol Abuse Prevention for College Students: The BASICS and CHOICES Modalities of the Alcohol Skills Training Program.In R. J. Chapman (Ed.) When They Drink: Practitioner Views and Lessons Learned On Preventing High-Risk Collegiate Drinking. Glassboro, NJ: New Jersey Consortium Monograph Series.
Rus, Z. & Kilmer, J. (n.d.). The Alcohol Skills Training Takes Off. The Record of Sigma Alpha Epsilon. Retrieved June 14, 2010 from http://saerecord.net/2009/04/the-alcohol-skills-training-program-makes-an-advance-in-the-realm/.