Alcohol Abuse Prevention Basics

Appropriate policies and discipline, education and alcohol-free alternative events will help reduce the chances that the students on your campus will engage in unsafe drinking.

All too often, drinking is accepted almost as a right of passage once students get to college. However, alcohol use and abuse have serious consequences. The first few weeks on campus increase a student’s chances that he or she will engage in high-risk drinking. Other areas of concern might be large campus festivities, sporting events, tailgating activities, alumni engagement events and house parties. Students who participate in these events significantly raise their risk of injury and death. They are also more prone to becoming victims of or committing acts of violence.

Related Article: U. of Tennessee, Knoxville’s  Alcohol Abuse Prevention Program

Schools should adopt policies and appropriate disciplinary sanctions for students and employees who violate those policies. Consistent enforcement of sanctions sends a message that your institution means business when it comes to alcohol and substance abuse. All students and employees should be made aware of the university’s policies and what will happen should they violate those policies.

There are many programs that raise awareness of high-risk drinking among college students. Talking about the risks of alcohol use and abuse is important throughout the year.

Some schools find that mandatory online education helps. For others, peer-to-peer education is effective. Find out what might work on your campus by engaging students in the process of creating the best program for the individual needs of your school. Plan alternative campus events that do not center on drinking, and encourage students to attend these functions. Alumni events that include alcohol should be held at off campus facilities.

Finally, ensure that students understand the connection between alcohol consumption and crime. While under the influence of alcohol and other drugs, students are not only much more likely to commit crimes and to violate school policies, they are also more likely to be victimized.

That said, stress to students that even if they have been using alcohol or drugs and they are victimized, they are encouraged to report the incident. Be clear that they will not face sanctions if they are reporting a violent crime. Avoid indirectly blaming victims who had been drinking by watching how you speak about the connection between crime and alcohol.

Make sure that your campus has services available for students in recovery as well. Students should know where they can turn if they are struggling with drugs and alcohol during their time at school. Additionally, students should know how to recognize the signs of alcohol poisoning and how to help a friend who might be in danger.

As with most things, your school can affect change on campus surrounding high-risk drinking and drug use by creating a community that is aware of the seriousness as well as resources available.

Melissa Lucchesi is the outreach education coordinator and lead victim advocate at Security On Campus Inc. (SOC). She can be reached at

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