152921 An environmental program to curb a high risk drinking holiday: Results and lessons learned

Monday, November 5, 2007: 5:35 PM

Thomas Szigethy, MA , Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Services, University of Connecticut, Storrs, CT
The annual college celebratory event is a tradition on many college campuses that has yet to have all of its nuances explained through research. Aspects of the college drinking culture that help to expand understanding can assist in implementing prevention efforts (Dowdall and Wechsler, 2002). Quantifying net impact of alcohol use among the student population could shed light on why students increase or decrease drinking (Murphy, Correia, Colby, Vuchinich, 2005). As we identify the negative impact of drinking among the college population we can draw associations to areas of the campus community that logic necessitates be involved in prevention efforts. This program focuses on the three year history of progressive environmental prevention efforts directed at the university annual unsanctioned “event” in which thousands of college students gather to imbibe alcohol and become intoxicated. Environmental prevention was implemented to educate the students and have them take ownership in order to eliminate the risks present through current patterns of behavior. Within three years time the university has seen drastic reductions in numbers of attendees as well as a marked change in attitude toward EMT and law enforcement. The environment has changed from an attitude of anarchy and entitlement among attendees to one of social consciousness, awareness of each other and appreciation toward professionals assisting to reduce risk. Students took ownership of the negative event and made substantive change through the vehicle of a community coalition and the model of environmental prevention.

Learning Objectives:
Learning Outcomes: Participants will have the opportunity to: • Identify how the community coalition is an integral part to environmental prevention • Understand implications for the department of prevention/wellness in an environmental approach • Identify key stake holders and the student role in a community effort to prevention • Understand the planning, strategy, stages and assessment of an effective plan • Conceptualize the environmental approach as a fluid, flexible and ever changing element to cultural change

Presenting author's disclosure statement:

Any relevant financial relationships? No
Any institutionally-contracted trials related to this submission?

I agree to comply with the American Public Health Association Conflict of Interest and Commercial Support Guidelines, and to disclose to the participants any off-label or experimental uses of a commercial product or service discussed in my presentation.