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UMaine Alcohol Abuse Prevention Project Making Progress

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This issue introduces an article from The University of Maine. This article gives you an opportunity to think about "drinking culture" of universities. More information is available at http://www.umaine.edu................................Ed.

ORONO - With the end spring semester, the University of Maine's Office of Substance Abuse Prevention Services (SAPS) is evaluating the successes of its Higher Education Alcohol Abuse Prevention Project. Since October, when SAPS received grants from the federal government and the Distilled Spirits Council of the United States (DISCUS), it has implemented a number of self-sustaining programs that use environmental management techniques to prevent substance abuse at UMaine.
DISCUS awarded UMaine a $15,500 grant to hire a graduate assistant to work in the SAPS office and to develop web-based substance abuse prevention initiatives. The grant has been distributed with the support of local wholesalers United Beverages, Inc., and Horizon Beverage Co. Coupled with a $40,000 sub-grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, the DISCUS funds have also supported the establishment of a Student Advisory Board, a Campus-Community Coalition and training programs.
Recent research, including the Harvard College Alcohol Study, has indicated that environmental management techniques such as changing community norms, increasing enforcement and reducing underage access to alcohol are more effective than attempting to impact individual decisions solely through education and intervention.
"The most effective way to reduce alcohol abuse on our nation's campuses is through integrated partnerships between the university and its surrounding community," says Dr. Peter H. Cressy, president of the Distilled Spirits Council. "The distilled spirits industry is pleased to be a part of this important initiative at UMaine and we greatly appreciate the support of United Beverages, Horizon Beverages and Eben Marsh, director of Maine's Bureau of Alcoholic Beverages and Lottery Operations."
UMaine SAPS Web page, located here, provides students with information ranging from university policy and state law to UMaine statistics and other facts about alcohol and drugs. It allows students to take a "drinker's quiz" and offers advice about how to approach problems such as alcohol poisoning or an alcoholic roommate. Other web services include an "Alcohol and Other Drugs" discussion folder on UMaine's e-mail based "Campus Conversations."
UMaine also hosted training programs sponsored by the State Office of Substance Abuse for university staff members from six universities, local law enforcement agencies and members of the community in December, February and March. Speakers from the Higher Education Center for Alcohol and Other Drug Prevention in Boston, the State Bureau of Liquor Enforcement and the Champaign Police Department in Champaign, IL, conducted workshop sessions.
The eight-member Student Advisory Board (SAB) met once a week beginning in December. It organized programs, planned events and dialogued with university officials and members of the community about alcohol abuse prevention strategies.
Events conducted by SAB included a "Sticker Shock Campaign," in which UMaine students, students from Old Town and Orono High Schools and members of the Old Town and Orono Police Departments placed bright orange warning stickers on alcoholic beverages for sale in local stores. The stickers were shaped like police badges and provided information about the penalties for providing alcohol to minors. SAB also initiated a campaign to change the social norms around Bumstock, an annual outdoor music event held on campus, with an anti-substance abuse poster campaign before and during the event.
A Campus Coalition comprised of representatives from Greek Affairs, Residence Life, Public Safety and SAPS is in place, and has met frequently for training and to share ideas. SAPS is currently working to include members of the community in this group in order to create a Campus-Community Coalition that would develop programs to address the problems of high risk drinking on and off campus.


From the May 28 issue of University of Maine News.

University of Maine News  dgudp@dongguk.edu

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