The FRESH Project: An Important Study

I participated in University of Washington’s Project FRESH two weeks ago. If you’re a single (unmarried) female, who is a social drinker, and looking for some extra money, you’ve probably seen the ad on Craigslist. I spoke about it on my Facebook page. A girl commented with the question, “Oh, that’s a real thing?” Yes. It is real and legitimate.  Her comment prompted me to write this blog post to assure anyone who is considering participation that it is real research that is going to help our society in a big way.

I usually dislike participating in psychological studies. They’re weird, truth be told. For my psychology class I was required to participate in two of them. I always felt suspicious and like someone was trying to trick me. It wasn’t really my thing… but this study was entirely different.

The ad mentioned something about wanting to monitor my thoughts before and after alcohol. I may or may not be drunk but if I happened to get the alcohol (chosen at random), then I was required to stay  until my blood alcohol level dropped below .03. Huh. Okay. Well, great! That means I make more (easy) money! Joking aside, I did take this decision seriously and put a lot of thought into it before signing up.

I can’t go into all the details because 1) they asked me not to and 2) it’s important to remain some privacy so they can continue receiving participants who don’t “know” what they “should” say. They need honest answers.

I was asked a lot of questions before I was accepted into the study. They told me I couldn’t drink the night before or it might mess up the tests. I also couldn’t eat anything 3 hours before my appointment. Mine was at 9am. I also couldn’t have any sugar related drinks but plain coffee or tea was fine (and of course, water).

When I got there, they informed me of all the details. They explained their mission and told me I could leave at any point or stop the test if I was uncomfortable. They gave me samples of the most uncomfortable questions they would ask. They also explained the study was run entirely by women so that we would feel safe. It did make me feel safer. They also assured me if I decided to stop or wanted to leave, I would be compensated for my time no matter what.

I sat at a computer, in closed room by myself, and answered a lot questions about my education, my family, personal questions about dating/sex and possible trauma. Then came the time to find out if I would receive alcohol or not.

I did.

It was very strange to be drunk before noon. It was a normal drunk. It was just like they assured me. The amount of alcohol I was given was based on my weight and meant to raise my blood-alcohol level to .1 percent. In the state of Washington, it is illegal to drive with blood-alcohol level at .08 percent and above. I took a breathalyzer test every 5 minutes to monitor the increase and to see when they could begin the next portion of the study: answering more questions about sex and dating while I was drunk.

All I can say is, I really feel this study is going to help people in learning how to handle situations when they are drunk, drinking, considering having sex, actually having sex, and protecting themselves in many ways.

This study is GOOD and needed. It’s nice that we’re monetarily compensated for our time, too.. but mostly, I’m very excited to hear the results after it ends in Sept. 2012.

I was happy to participate because I feel it meets my personal goals: creating a freer and safer society. We are on our way.

So in case you were curious about participating but worried.. don’t be. I did it and I’m glad I did it. Please go join in if you can. We need your honest answers.


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