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About the Interventions in CollegeAIM

In the past several decades, significant progress has been made in clarifying what does and doesn’t work to prevent alcohol-related problems among college students. Hundreds of studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals, providing the foundation for CollegeAIM.

Of the intervention strategies in CollegeAIM, about two-thirds have shown some degree of effectiveness, about a third have mixed results or have too little evidence to warrant an effectiveness rating, and a few have been shown to be ineffective. All are included so you can see how your current strategies stack up; identify other, perhaps more effective options; and compare costs, barriers to implementation, and other information to help your planning and decision-making process.

Two types of strategies: individual and environmental.

To cover the full spectrum of alcohol-related problems most campuses face, CollegeAIM now includes 28 individual-level strategies and 39 environmental-level strategies.

Individual-level strategies are designed to change your students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to alcohol so that students drink less, take fewer risks, and experience fewer harmful consequences. Categories of individual-level interventions include education and awareness programs, cognitive-behavioral skills-based approaches, motivation and feedback-related approaches, and behavioral interventions by health professionals.

Environmental-level strategies are designed to change the campus and community environments in which student drinking occurs and to educate the student body as a whole. Often, a major goal is to reduce the availability of alcohol, because research shows that reducing alcohol availability cuts consumption and harmful consequences on campuses as well as in the general population. Note that by focusing on single, stand-alone environmental strategies, this matrix does not include multicomponent environmental programs, some of which have shown success. Some strategies used in successful multicomponent programs, such as party patrols, may not have had enough research to demonstrate their effectiveness when used in isolation. Even so, this strategy and others designed to reduce alcohol availability may add to the effectiveness of a comprehensive campus program.

Consider a mix of strategies.

Your best chance for creating a safer campus could come from a combination of individual- and environmental-level interventions that work together to maximize positive effects.

Many individual-level strategies aim to assist students identified as having a problem with their drinking or with alcohol use disorder. It is important to engage these students as early as possible. Environmental strategies seek to affect the behavior of the overall student population by addressing the factors that accommodate or promote harmful and underage college drinking. Reducing the availability of alcohol in the broader campus and community environment, for example, can have wide-ranging positive effects for all students and the campus as a whole.

In short, as you develop your action plan, consider strategies that target individual students, the student body as a whole, and the broader college community.

Cut harmful consequences by reducing student drinking.

The strategies included in CollegeAIM focus primarily on reducing student drinking—and thereby reducing all possible harmful consequences—rather than on trying to prevent particular outcomes such as overdoses, sexual assaults, or alcohol-impaired driving. Three exceptions—amnesty policies, alcohol bystander interventions, and safe ride programs—are also included because a large number of campuses have instituted these programs. However, research has not yet established clear evidence of effectiveness for these strategies.

One consequence stands out in magnitude and may be a particular challenge for college AOD staff to address: alcohol-impaired driving. Alcohol-impaired driving accounts for the majority of alcohol-related deaths among college students nationwide. Your efforts to reduce student drinking will likely reduce the risk of alcohol-impaired driving as well; however, if you would like to take specific additional steps to help prevent your students from driving while impaired, please see the Frequently Asked Questions.

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