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New Website on Alcohol Prevention

Hub of information on alcohol prevention, intervention, education and enforcement

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November 21, 2011 | by Pat Vaughan Tremmel

EVANSTON, Ill. --- How does a student know when he drank too much or when a fellow student isn’t simply sleeping it off? How should parents continue conversations about drinking responsibly when their children move to a college campus? 

The answers to those and many other related questions can be found on “Alcohol and Other Resources,” www.northwestern.edu/alcohol-resources, a website at Northwestern University that serves as a centralized hub drawing relevant information from multiple sources across the University’s campuses. 

The website is at the leading edge of a trend on college campuses to pull together in one place all available resources related to drinking responsibly and responding to overdrinking or drug use, according to Lisa Currie, director of health promotion and wellness at Northwestern.

Information is offered for students, parents, faculty and staff as well as for Evanston neighbors, with links to policies, programs and resources related to prevention, early intervention, education and enforcement.

Students are the primary audience of the website. The links provide facts about the effect of alcohol and other drugs, emergency numbers, resources for getting help and educational programs and workshops.

Red Watch Band training, for example, teaches students how to identify and intervene effectively in alcohol-related medical emergencies. Upon completion of the training, participants receive a certificate and a red band.

The website also offers information on an online alcohol education course that is mandatory for freshmen, AlcoholEdu for College. The course arms students with the know-how to avoid drinking that interferes with their health, safety, academic success and whatever else is important to their particular lives.

Currie stressed the importance of providing resources for other key players, as well as students, in the life of the University.

The site, for example, lets faculty and staff understand the dangers of normalizing the notion that excessive drinking is part of college life and how they can support campus prevention efforts. Parents can learn about how influential they still can be in guiding their children’s decisions about alcohol. And the site lets surrounding Evanston community members know how serious Northwestern is about alcohol-related matters, including where to call when student partying becomes disruptive.

The website stems from the Campus Coalition on Alcohol and Other Drugs that has been meeting since January 2010. The coalition’s efforts are guided by a growing body of research that offers a much better understanding of effective methodologies for educating and intervening with students, as well as preventing alcohol- and drug-related problems in the first place.

Currie pointed to a conference recently held on the Evanston campus that brought together experts from throughout the country to examine evidence-based effective strategies to deal with alcohol and drug usage on college campuses. 

The conference was led by Michael Fleming, M.D., professor in family and community medicine and psychiatry and behavioral sciences at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. His research and training programs have focused on testing behavioral interventions in community-based primary care.  

“The national experts at the conference drew upon a significant body of research to say these are the things that work, these are the things that don’t work and these are the things that are promising,” Currie said.

Such research plays a critical role in Northwestern’s recent alcohol-related initiatives. “It is important for people to understand the responsibilities and rights they have within our community related to alcohol and to know what they can do when they need help either for themselves or for someone else,” she said.

Topics: University