Community Groups Reduce Alcohol Abuse on College Campuses

New research on alcohol abuse on college campuses is promising. Studies find a benefit in communities. Also, community action can reduce dangerous alcohol consumption. Because of campus tragedies, schools and communities wish for a brighter future.

In the Study to Prevent Alcohol-Related Consequences (SPARC), researchers found that coalitions help. As a result, coalitions reduce the risks of alcohol abuse on college campuses.

Mark Wolfson, Ph.D., professor at Wake Forest, led the SPARC study. It examined factors influencing drinking. Furthermore, this study is the first of its kind.

Five universities in North Carolina created community groups. In addition, they were comprised of faculty, students, and community members. Consequently, these coalitions created a plan. This was for each campus. Hence, after the study, researchers compared results. The other schools did not have coalitions. Therefore, results on alcohol abuse on college campuses were positive.

Positive Benefits of Campus Coalitions

The benefits extended campus-wide. In addition, risk factors were removed.

Kenneth R. Warren, Ph.D., the former director of the NIH’s National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA), detailed the success:

“This study adds to a body of evidence suggesting that strategic changes to the environment on campus and in the surrounding community can have an impact on high-risk drinking and its consequences among college students.”

Alcohol Abuse on College Campuses

The study by Wake Forest used five campuses. It showed the rates of the following issues declined.

  • Car accidents
  • Arrests
  • Medical care
  • Sexual assault
  • Fights

Furthermore, injuries caused by drinking dropped by 50 percent.

A Community Approach

Each campus team included:

  • Faculty
  • Students
  • Community members

All five campuses used a different approach. But some methods were the same across all, including:

  • Cutting access to alcohol
  • Better communication between campus and police
  • Punishing alcohol violations

For three years, researchers surveyed students about their drinking. The results were eye-opening. Severe consequences were a factor. However, a bigger factor was less alcohol-related injuries.

Community Groups Help Injury Rates Decline

The number of injuries dropped from 4 percent to 2 percent. This meant 107 fewer alcohol-related injuries each school year.

Professor Wolfson was proud, explaining in detail,

“We realized that high-risk drinking is … a community problem. You have to look at the ecosystem. This approach worked to reduce some of the negative consequences of high-risk drinking. We’re now accumulating evidence that this family of approaches can be helpful.”

In conclusion, alcohol abuse on college campuses can be deadly. Therefore, there are simple changes we can make. In addition, we can prevent risk. Hence, if you are concerned your teen is abusing alcohol, get them help.

Image courtesy of iStock.