Effective Substance Abuse Prevention Programs on Collegiate Campuses

College girl

Research confirms that problems regarding alcohol and drugs continue to inhibit live of student at college campuses. The study on college drug use statistics, “Wasting the Best and the Brightest: Substance Abuse at America’s Colleges and Universities,” showed 49 percent, or 3.8 million college students, abusing drugs, engaging in binge drinking, or doing both.

In face of such circumstances tainting the college experience for many students, which should be nothing but enriching, it is vital for college administrations to take initiative for prevention and intervention.

Many colleges today have implemented their versions of substance abuse prevention programs on their campuses, some of which are awarded as exemplary, effective or promising by the U.S. Department of Education.

Congress has authorized the U.S. Department of Education to identify and promote effective campus-based prevention programs. Funds awarded through this program are used by grantees to enhance and further evaluate their programs.

Since 1999, the U.S. Department of Education has awarded approximately $3.5 million to institutions of higher education (IHEs) in recognition of their programs. [1]

College Alcohol and Substance Abuse Education

Awarded an effective program, the College Alcohol and Substance Education (CASE) program is an abstinence and damage control intervention program, developed and implemented at University of California, Santa Barbara.

The program aims to include evidence-based practices within a clinical framework to limit freshmen students’ high-risk drinking trends and the ensuing repercussions, all the while working toward enhancing protective behaviors.

CASE is a component of UCSB’s comprehensive alcohol and drugs program that constitutes of online educational resources, active parents involvement, peer education, and environmental management strategies.

The program is based on evidenced-based practices including motivational interviewing, cognitive-behavioral therapy and skill development with at-risk or affected students.

Screening and Brief Intervention

Designed, implemented and evaluated at the University at Albany, the STEPS program is a comprehensive Screening and Brief Intervention (SBI) strategy based on the Brief Alcohol Screening and Intervention for College Students (BASICS). It was awarded an effective program.

College man in Substance Abuse recoveryThe BASICS is an established harm reduction tool and preventive approach, specifically designed for college students aged 18 to 24 years.

The intervention is for excessively drinking students who have experienced or are at risk for alcohol-related repercussions.

The STEPS model is focused on the reduction of alcohol consumption and on limiting the associated negative results.

This is accomplished through the adaptation of effective interventions particularly targeted at high-risk drinkers population. These include the first-year students, student-athletes and students seeking physical and/or mental health care.

UCF Alcohol and Other Substance Abuse Prevention

Deemed an exemplary program, the University of Central Florida (UCF) Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) preventive measures are relative to an integrated, comprehensive program for combating high-risk drinking and form multi-disciplinary partnerships at several levels.

The AOD prevention office (the REAL Assistance program) in collaboration with the Substance Use Research Group (SURG) is responsible for developing a campus and community prevention strategy and operational plan.

This partnership advocates for a “theory to practice” approach, building a continuum of innovative measures such as campus-wide awareness, education/awareness and accessibility to mental health care services. These services are derived from the recommendations of the NIAAA Task Force on College Drinking.

Within this program, two initiatives, that have been operational for two years, have been highly recommended by the U.S. Department of Education as exemplary. These initiative are the Expectancy Challenge Alcohol Literacy Curriculum (ECALC), and the Feedback-Based Alcohol Interventions for Mandated Students.

These initiatives constitute of individualized intervention and treatment strategies aimed for at-risk individuals and high-risk groups, with embedded interventions in the academic curricula. Evaluations have indicated significant reductions in both the weekly alcohol consumption and in binge drinking episodes over a month, for students receiving the ECALC.

The findings were also found applicable for fraternities and sororities, making these interventions potentially significant for the overall theory and practice of prevention efforts for college students.

Awarded to be an exemplary program, University of Houston’s prevention program and strategies are largely derived from theory and research, based upon the NIAAA Task Force recommendations.

One component of the program, Intent and Motivation: Alcohol Group Exercise (IMAGE) strives to implement responsible behaviors among high-risk groups, from January 2006 to the present. Statistically, students who received treatment through IMAGE were likelier to drink fewer times per month and experience lesser repercussions than those who did not.

Furthermore, underage students who participated in IMAGE were three times more likely to consume fewer weekly drinks and 1.5 times more likely to have no drinks in a typical week.

Conclusively, a six-month, post-treatment assessment illustrated a decrease in student alcohol frequency for the treatment group, establishing the success of IMAGE intervention upon student drinking. [2]

College Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention

The College Coalition for Substance Abuse Prevention (CCSAP) works to promote a collective substance abuse prevention and awareness program for all Washington State institutions of higher learning.

CCSAP sponsors an annual statewide college wellness conference for students, staff and faculty. It also conducts educational webinars to encourage updated research on substance abuse, mental health and its effect on students. Online self-assessments for substance abuse are also held for numerous colleges.

The CCSAP meets bi-monthly and provides mini-grants and technical support to colleges and universities.

Early Prevention – A Necessary Tool

Recent times have witnessed a growing momentum for comprehensive prevention approaches that effectively integrate traditional education programs with strategies focused on evolving physical, social, legal and economic environments on campuses and in surrounding communities.

College girl playing guitarThis environmental management approach appreciates the harsh reality that student behavior is influenced by multiple elements: personal, peer, institutional, social and public policy.

It is vital to ensure the successful implementation of these programs in order to save our coming generations from the vicious hold of addiction in the future.

Sana Ahmed photoAbout the Author:

A journalist and social media savvy content writer with wide research, print and on-air interview skills, Sana Ahmed has previously worked as staff writer for a renowned rehabilitation institute focusing on mental health and addiction recovery, a content writer for a marketing agency, an editor for a business magazine and been an on-air news broadcaster.

Sana graduated with a Bachelors in Economics and Management from London School of Economics and began a career of research and writing right after. The art of using words to educate, stir emotions, create change and provoke action is at the core of her career, as she strives to develop content and deliver news that matters.


[1] http://www.alcoholeducationproject.org/DOEModelPrograms2008.pdf
[2] https://www2.ed.gov/programs/dvpcollege/awards.html
[3] https://ccsap.wsu.edu/

The opinions and views of our guest contributors are shared to provide a broad perspective of addictions. These are not necessarily the views of Addiction Hope, but an effort to offer discussion of various issues by different concerned individuals.

We at Addiction Hope understand that addictions result from a combination of environmental and genetic factors. If you or a loved one are suffering from an addiction, please know that there is hope for you, and seek immediate professional help.

Published on June 30, 2017.
Reviewed By: Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC on May 31, 2017
Published on AddictionHope.com

About Jacquelyn Ekern, MS, LPC

Jacquelyn Ekern founded Addiction Hope in January, 2013, after experiencing years of inquiries for addiction help by visitors to our well regarded sister site, Eating Disorder Hope. Many of the eating disorder sufferers that contact Eating Disorder Hope also had a co-occurring issue of addiction to alcohol, drugs, and process addictions.