College Drinking Task Force Calls for Research-Based Prevention Programs

Posted: April 18, 2002 at 1:00 am, Last Updated: November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

By Elena Barbre

The consequences of college drinking are larger and more destructive than commonly realized, according to a new study supported by the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA). Commissioned by the NIAAA Task Force on College Drinking, the study reveals that drinking by college students ages 18-24 contributes to an estimated 1,400 student deaths, 500,000 injuries, and 70,000 cases of sexual assault or date rape each year. It also estimates that more than one-fourth of college students 18-24 have driven in the past year while under the influence of alcohol.

The study, one of several commissioned by the task force, was conducted by researchers at Boston University, Harvard University, and the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. David Anderson, director of George Mason’s Center for the Advancement of Public Health, was a subcommittee member for the study, which appears in the March 2002 issue of the Journal of Studies on Alcohol.

The task force’s report, “A Call to Action: Changing the Culture of Drinking at U.S. Colleges,” outlines recommendations for college administrators and researchers to address high-risk college drinking. It calls on NIAAA to support the research community’s efforts to address knowledge gaps and alter the culture of drinking on campus; facilitate long-term research aimed at preventing hazardous student drinking; and impart what is known about the patterns of college drinking and the quality of current interventions to encourage administrators and community leaders to adopt policies and implement strategies based on research.

Anderson codirects the Promising Practices: Campus Alcohol Strategies project, which identifies exemplary alcohol abuse prevention strategies, and has prepared a variety of materials for college alcohol abuse prevention planning that will “help significantly with the implementation of the NIAAA recommendations,” he says.

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