New alcohol application helps students regulate liquor intake
March 6, 2013
Students might receive a lesson on alcohol intake with the help of the measurement app Shots iGot.
The recently released app aims to control college drinking. Cataloging over 44 common containers, the application allows users to utilize most receptacles as measuring cups to approximate the number of shots. The next step involves swiping your touch screen to set the amount of alcohol you put into the container. From there, the app calculates the amount of alcohol inside your cup by using standardized 1.5-ounce shots. The app boasts accuracy near one-tenth of a shot.
The idea for Shots iGot came from an article that detailed how package sizes are adjusted for marketing purposes because the human brain cannot visualize volume. The co-creator, Paras Jain, is also a recent graduate of Rutgers University.
“We realized the same concept applied when students pour drinks into different size containers,” Jain said. “One bad estimate can lead to overpouring and some serious consequences. As college students, we saw the consequences of overdrinking firsthand and recognized the potential for a simple app to serve as a cool ‘harm reduction’ tool.”
Alexandra Milonas, a clinical supervisor for the Counseling and Wellness Services at the NYU Student Health Center, said some students at NYU reported they drank five to six drinks — considered binge drinking — the last time they partied.
“Any app that would encourage students to be more informed and drink more safely is helpful,” Milonas said. “This app is a good supplemental resource, however we still encourage students to have these complicated conversations with professionals.”
Although the app is intended to lower excessive college drinking and make students aware of the quantity they are drinking, it may only be a baby step in the long process to solving a crucial problem on college campuses. The app may even promote drinking on some level.
“I think it would be fun to measure how much I was drinking, but I don’t think it would change how much I ended up having,” said John Hatch, a sophomore at University of Denver. “We might measure out a cup to see how much it is, but then have the person chug it,” he said.
“Without a larger effort to prevent risky drinking, one could imagine such an app being used by partiers to document and brag about how much they drank rather than to prevent such drinking,” said Susan Foster, vice president and director of policy research and analysis at The National Center on Addiction and Substance Abuse at Columbia University.
S. Lala A. Straussner, a professor of social work at NYU who studies substance abuse and addictions, asked her class for their opinion. Both professor Straussner and her students reached the conclusion that students who need the app might not use it while students who would want to monitor their drinking probably do not drink enough to warrant use of the app.
About 10,000 people have already downloaded the app, which is available for free in the iTunes app store. An Android app is also in the works.
A version of this article was published in the Wednesday, March 6 print edition. Tatiana Baez is university editor. Email her at firstname.lastname@example.org.