Despite the fact that the legal drinking age in most states is 21, a time when the majority of traditional college students have already graduated, alcohol misuse on college campuses remains an issue of concern. And, of course, even students who have reached the legal drinking age are at risk of drinking in unsafe and unhealthy ways. This is even more of an issue this year as the pandemic has added additional strain to the already stressful lives of millions of college students around the country.

As administrators undertake the 2021 school year, effective college alcohol misuse prevention programs are top-of- mind. What should you be doing now to prepare your 2021 prevention programs?

1. Get Everybody on the Same Page

Your alcohol prevention programs should be aligned with your university’s mission, vision, and values and supported by a policy that outlines shared expectations for your campus community—not only students, but also faculty, staff and other community members. The U.S. Department of Education continues to recommend that these evidence-based practices be part of a strong prevention strategy:

  • Scheduling classes on Fridays to discourage Thursday night partying
  • Providing and promoting multiple alcohol-free options
  • Eliminating support from alcohol-related organizations and restricting alcohol-related promotions or events on campus
  • Partnering with the local community to assist in communicating messages in support of campus policies

Beyond these types of strategies, of course, it’s important for school administrators, instructors, and other campus leaders to support and model desired behaviors around the appropriate use of alcohol. In addition, enlisting campus leaders, including student leaders, in sharing messages to raise awareness and boost alcohol misuse prevention can help ensure that the campus climate and culture are aligned with expectations.

Alcohol Misuse Prevention for College Students

Join the 500+ campuses already using AlcoholEdu® as alcohol education that provides awareness training, alcohol misuse prevention, and safe drinking tips for college students.

2. Evaluate Current Knowledge and Perspectives

Do you know how aware your student population and others are of the informational and educational materials available to them around alcohol and other drug misuse? To what extent do they feel that these materials are helpful in providing relevant information addressing their needs and concerns? To what extent do students feel that these materials impact their decisions? Having answers to these questions can help to identify gaps and areas of opportunity for improvement.

3. Communicate Broadly, Widely and Frequently

College drinking prevention efforts aren’t a single program, they’re a process. Research shows that prevention education is most effective when students engage with the information regularly during their time in college. Communication should occur through multiple channels, throughout the year. Students should be provided with tips and strategies for making safe and healthy decisions about drinking, and information that can help them support others in bystander roles. With many campuses operating to some degree in a virtual setting, it’s also important that communication be available digitally.

When students hear the same messages via multiple channels and from multiple people—especially people they trust and admire—those messages will resonate.

4. Enlist Students in Your Communication Efforts

Students can be significant influencers on campus when it comes to supporting their friends who don’t drink and helping those who do to make appropriate decisions about their drinking. They can serve in a strong bystander role, but only if they know how. They must be armed with effective messages and strategies when they recognize a situation where they can and should intervene and, importantly, believe that they can make an impact.

5. Be Realistic and Relevant in Your Communication Efforts

When educating college students about alcohol misuse, it’s important to connect with them through realistic messages and scenarios that will resonate. Effective alcohol prevention education isn’t punitive and doesn’t characterize students who misuse alcohol as “bad.” It’s important to be empathetic and nonjudgmental when communicating about a topic that can be a very personal and sometimes stigmatizing topic.

Students should be educated about the mental and physical effects of alcohol—how misuse can affect their health, safety, and personal goals now and in the future.

It’s also important to ensure that your messaging is tailored to specific student segments—abstainers, light to moderate drinkers, and frequent drinkers. Customized messaging has greater relevance and is more engaging. 

Students are under more pressure than ever these days and that pressure can take a variety of forms. Plan now for a successful 2021 by preparing an alcohol education program for college students that leads to real results. Seek ways to help students find outlets, resources, and positive ways to deal with stress and enjoy campus life without developing harmful practices related to alcohol consumption.

Alcohol Education Program for College Students

Designed for college students, this interactive online program uses the latest evidence-based prevention methods to create a highly engaging user experience, inspiring students to make healthier decisions.