This post is the second in a three-part series of Dr. David Anderson’s 3 “R”s to Ending College Binge Drinking. The first blog in this series can be found here.
Yesterday, we discussed how it’s important for us to review the college binge drinking landscape thus far. Today’s post will focus on the “reflect” portion of the series. That reflection can start with a few different things.
First, why is it that various factors, such as the heavier drinking rates of 40% or the alcohol-related consequences, have not changed much over the past few decades?
Second, as we look at our campus strategies, how well are they addressing the alcohol-related areas that concern us for our students? How comprehensive or appropriate are our campus efforts? How well do we do with monitoring our campus efforts, or evaluating them? Only one-half (53%) of campuses report looking at their program’s effectiveness in recent years; why is this not a regular feature for each of our campus’ programs?
Third, what is it that keeps these problem behaviors from getting reduced? Why is heavy drinking about the same as it was years ago, and why do the problems remain the same? I believe it is not because of not knowing what to do; it is more due to a lack of commitment or drive to do what it takes to make a difference.
Finally, to what extent are we addressing the needs, or the root causes, of their alcohol abuse behavior? In a recent study about high school students nationwide (many of whom will soon be on our campuses), a colleague and I offered a framework about youth risky alcohol decisions that suggests teens’ core issues (such as stress, insecurity, discouragement, expectations, aloneness, and personal identity) are not being addressed (see http://teenalcoholcultures.gmu.edu/).
Perhaps it is time to renew our direction and commitments in regard to the issue of college binge drinking. Tomorrow, in the final blog of the series, we will explore that renewal.
Prepared by David S. Anderson, Ph.D.
Professor of Education and Human Development
Director, Center for the Advancement of Public Health
College of Education and Human Development