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Online course to reduce alcohol, drug harm

By : Sarah Lifshin

In an effort to provide more and better education about alcohol prevention, Binghamton University’s Alcohol Task Force was recently presented an overview demonstration about an on-line program that could be used as a tool to reduce the harm from alcohol and other drugs for students.

Members of the task force, created last year by President Lois B. DeFleur, recently were presented an overview of AlcoholEdu, a program used by several academic institutions nationwide.

Developed by Outside the Classroom, the program provides population-level prevention and aims at not only affecting individual students but also the community of students as a population with all of its subgroups and social networks.

“This is a very complex issue and we want to take every opportunity to make decisions, which might reduce the harm related to alcohol and other drugs,” said Rodger Summers, vice president for student affairs and chairman of the Alcohol Task Force.

Evidence provided during the presentation showed the on-line program does work. Data collected at a one-month follow-up showed that abstainers rose from 39.4 percent to 43.4 percent; heavy episodic drinkers dropped from 38.1 percent to 35 percent; and problematic drinkers from 12.1 percent to 9.9 percent. AlcoholEdu includes five chapters covering decision making about drinking — from the influence on students’ decisions to practical scenarios that illustrate the real circumstances in which those decisions will have to be made.

The program includes pre-, post- and follow-up surveys; decision-making scenarios, interactive exercises and personalized feedback; a pretest and final exam; a personalized notebook; and a program conclusion, which is later presented to students and reiterates the program’s major concepts.

The task force is also debating the pros and cons of any changes to the University student sanctions as a result of violations, which are alcohol or drug related, Summers said.
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Last Updated: 10/14/08