U.S. universities taking lead in reducing unhealthy drinking habits on their campuses

U.S. universities taking lead in reducing unhealthy drinking habits on their campuses

Every year, thousands of college students in America start drinking alcohol to socialize and fit in. Majority start drinking excessively and develop alcoholic patterns that make them susceptible to long-term damage. According to a national survey, 60 percent of college students in the age group of 18 to 22 consumed alcohol and 2 out of 3 respondents binge drank whenever they consumed alcohol.

Even though colleges are aware of the harmful effects of alcoholism or binge drinking, almost half of their students indulge in it. This is mainly due to the fact that the enforcement of alcohol abuse laws pertaining to underage drinking is irregular. One of the primary reasons for this could be the discontinuation of the federal program assisting educational institutions with alcohol and drug abuse prevention in 2012 due to funding issues.

However, in spite of the shortfalls, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), in a bid to prevent binge drinking in college campuses, had launched a website by the name of www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov to raise awareness amongst students. Presently, some universities in the U.S. are adopting proactive measures to deal with the issues of alcoholism on campuses.

The ASG initiative

Stanford University framed the Alcohol Solutions Group (ASG) as a part of its ongoing effort to reform their alcohol policy. The ASG has been entrusted with the responsibility of formulating a set of recommendations and create a concrete plan to cut down the trend of unhealthy drinking habits among students on university campuses.

The ASG comprises of officers from the Stanford University Department of Public Safety (SUPDS), resident fellows, Stanford undergraduates, and Vaden representatives. The group is presently seeking inputs from students and its recommendations would be presented to the office of the Provost, which is currently being held by Persis Drell.

After a previous attempt at reforming the alcohol policy failed in September 2018, Drell and Vice Provost for Student Affairs, Susie Brubaker Cole announced the creation of the ASG via email which detailed a fresh approach to alleviate alcoholism by designing initiatives to expand the Stanford University Student Alcohol Policy including the safe rides program, Cardinal Nights, alcohol-free social programming, and 5SURE.

ASG following College Alcohol Intervention Matrix

Formulated by the NIAAA, the ASG is following the College Alcohol Intervention Matrix (AIM) which marks the effectiveness of strategies formulated to cut down excessive consumption of alcohol on college campuses. Some of the strategies laid down by AIM include prohibiting drinking under 21 years, limiting the sale of alcohol, and sharing information pertaining to average alcohol consumption.

The ASG is divided into various branches such as environmental, outreach, and policy to name a few. Each of these groups is responsible for offering recommendations pertaining to an aspect of Stanford’s drinking culture. For example, the policy group concentrates on developing recommendations pertaining to drinking policies at the university level. The outreach group reaches out to Cardinal Nights, Resident Fellows (RFs), and dorm staff members to discuss policies pertaining to Stanford’s campus drinking culture. And the environmental group focuses on students recovering from drinking-related issues and looks at various possibilities of increasing alcohol-free housing on the university campus.

ASG is assisted by Stanford Law School’s policy lab

The Stanford Law School’s policy lab is assisting the ASG in its efforts to deal with the problems of alcoholism on campus. The law school is collecting data pertaining to alcohol policies from various educational institutions and is weighing the effectiveness of these policies as it focuses on ways of assisting students recovering from addiction on college campuses.

Recovering students are often overlooked by the universities, and the policy lab is not only assisting in formulating recommendations but is also one of the several resources utilized by the ASG to finalize its recommendations.

ASG is surveying other schools for inspiration

The ASG is also conducting a survey of other educational institutions to look for inspiration and to adopt best practices. For instance, it is looking at various ways of housing adopted by other institutions. Some campuses have dry dormitory floors that students can request, while others have housing facilities which are more health-focused like mindfulness, yoga, and athletics.

The ASG is also considering ways in which it can regulate drinking on campus. It is considering the possibility of introducing a new kind of safety officer who would be a cross of a police officer and a resident assistant (RA). The safety officer will be an authoritative figure, but would not be carrying any weapons or handcuffs.

Princeton University’s unique approach

Another university, Princeton, has adopted a unique approach to deal with alcoholism prevalent amongst students. Unlike other universities, Princeton does not penalize drunk students who check into the McCosh Health Center, a facility providing health, medical, and wellness services to undergraduate and graduate students. The university instead, reserves punitive measures against students who fail to check in to the McCosh Health Center.

Despite introducing such a generous policy focused towards the overall wellbeing of students, it is not helping much in changing the drinking patterns amongst students. This is the reason why several campuses tend to treat underage drinking in a harsher manner. In order to effectively address this problem of alcoholism in campuses, more focused efforts are needed from universities and colleges in the U.S.

Recovery from alcoholism

Alcohol addiction in teenagers usually starts as a casual or social drinking habit and later assumes the form of compulsive alcohol seeking behavior. However, it is significant to closely monitor the social drinking habits of teenagers and seek early professional intervention if needed.

If you know a teen dependent or addicted to alcohol, direct them towards the Alcohol Addiction Helpline of California. A renowned addiction treatment helpline, we can connect you with the best alcohol treatment centers. These treatment centers for alcohol addiction in California offer evidence-based treatment approaches for treating alcohol dependency in teens. For more information about alcohol rehab centers, call our 24/7 helpline 855-980-1715 or chat online with a representative.

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