A new online tool developed by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism aims to help colleges sort through a myriad of programs to find the right one that can help their campus combat binge drinking.
The CollegeAIM (Alcohol Intervention Matrix) guide and website includes a matrix of various intervention and education programs and strategies that schools can browse based on their focus and how much they’re willing to spend. Each program is rated by its effectiveness based on evidence and research, or it is labeled as one that CollegeAIM has not studied enough to form an opinion.
Colleges are also provided means by which to measure the effectiveness of their efforts on their own campus, to see whether students are responding to what they are trying.
NIAAA officials said a team of 16 developers and reviewers looking at nearly 60 programs over several years.
“It’s like a menu you would have at a restaurant,” Dr. George Koob, director of NIAAA, told The Huffington Post in an interview. “You could choose what exactly fits your student body, but at the same time you can review prevention and interventions for the effectiveness and their cost, and other issues that are relevant.”
The tool was developed after NIAAA asked a group of college presidents what they needed to address excessive drinking on campus.
“There is a pressing need for a clear, unbiased tool to help colleges make informed decisions,” said Jonathan Gibralter, president of Wells College in New York, and chair of the NIAAA College Presidents Working Group to Address Harmful and Underage Drinking. “College administrators are in a critical position — to serve as catalysts to influence a school’s social atmosphere and make choices that improve the health and safety of students. And we believe the CollegeAIM guide and website will help.”
There are different approaches available for colleges, including individual or environmental-level intervention strategies. Some individual programs are online educational modules. Environmental approaches describe how to work on restricting happy hours and price specials in the college bar scene, or enacting larger city ordinances.
Koob said many of the individual strategies are focused on either telling students about their health, or changing their attitudes to help them realize everybody isn’t drinking as much as they think.
There can be an attitude of “everybody’s drinking so it’s OK for me to drink,” Koob explained, but “that’s not what’s really going on.”
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