One study, for example, looked at an assistance program for students who had been sanctioned by the university for drinking- or drug-related violations. Counselors assessed each student's alcohol and drug use, then had several sessions with them to discuss ways to change their behavior. Lead author Hortensia Amaro, Ph.D., of Northeastern University in Boston, and her colleagues found that, six months later, students who'd gone through the program were drinking less and using more positive "coping skills" than their counterparts who had not been through the program.
At the other end of the spectrum, two studies evaluated programs that brought colleges and their surrounding communities together -- through measures like increased police patrols in problem neighborhoods and efforts to make students more aware of their responsibilities as community residents. Both studies, one led by Robert F. Saltz, Ph.D., of the Pacific Institute for Research and Evaluation in Berkeley, CA, and the second led by Mark D. Wood, Ph.D., of the University of Rhode Island, Kingston, RI, found certain positive effects, including reductions in heavy drinking and student incidents off-campus.
"You really need a full complement of efforts at all of these levels," DeJong says. "This is not just a student problem or a college problem; it's a community problem."
It's common for college administrators to have a defeatist attitude toward reducing campus drinking problems, DeJong noted. What is important to remember, he says, is that "the vast majority of students are making good decisions" when it comes to alcohol and that, where problems exist, it is possible to address them.
"The message here is that there are programs and policies that work," DeJong says. "These studies make the case that prevention is possible."
|Contact: Paul Candon|
Journal of Studies on Alcohol and Drugs