The University of Northern Colorado has been selected to participate in a statewide initiative that will address alcohol abuse and impaired driving among college students.
The Division of Behavioral Health and it partners, including the Persistent Drunk Driving Committee, will work with UNC Prevention Education and Advocacy Services to implement the campaign. UNC has been chosen because of the university's commitment to educating about responsible decision- making regarding alcohol consumption. Educational programs and activities include late-night, alcohol-free and drug-free events through UNC's Center for Peer Education.
UNC is above the national average for responsible drinking behaviors among students — the overwhelming majority of UNC students report regularly using a designated driver — according to a survey by the American College Health Association. This initiative will allow UNC to implement a research-based campaign. This will expand existing educational efforts currently taking place on campus to address impaired driving and other unintended consequences related to alcohol consumption.
The campaign will correct common misconceptions and encourage students to align with actual drug and alcohol behaviors. For example, students believe that the majority of their peers are heavy and frequent drinkers. Data shows this is inaccurate and that the majority of students use alcohol responsibly and do not binge drink, according to the national college survey.
During the first year of the three-year campaign, 400 UNC students will be surveyed about their drug and alcohol use. Information also will be gathered about their perceptions of drug and alcohol use among their peers and campus resources available to them. The campaign will be regularly evaluated to ensure effectiveness.
The social norming campaign will also work in conjunction with organizations in the surrounding community, such Weld County Prevention Partners and the Underage Drinking Coalition. This joint effort will allow further collaboration between UNC and the greater Greeley community to extend campaign messages outside of the college campus.
"We believe this campaign will create positive change in student behavior related to alcohol and drug impairment at UNC just as it has done at Western State College in Gunnison and is currently doing at CSU-Pueblo," said Christine Flavia with the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health. "Research shows that using social norming campaign tactics can move the needle in a positive direction versus using negative scare tactics. This is our opportunity to create positive change on this campus."
About UNC's Prevention Education and Advocacy Services Office
Prevention Education and Advocacy Services is under the umbrella of the UNC Counseling Center and oversees the Center for Peer Education (CPE). CPE is dedicated to educating student peers about alcohol and other drugs, tobacco, mental health, sexual health and overall wellness issues impacting college students and collaborates with campus and community organizations to provide educational programs. Examples include:
- New Student Orientation: More than 2,500 incoming students participate in an Interactive Theatre session during New Student Orientation each summer. This session educates students about alcohol and high-risk drinking, sex and consent, safer sex practices and STDs/STIs, prescription drug abuse and campus resources. UNC Counseling Center, Prevention Education and Advocacy Services, the Dean of Students Office and the UNC Police Department integrate educational information throughout the theater and provide answers to student questions. Counselors with the UNC Counseling Center are on hand to provide student support as needed. The Interactive Theatre has been identified as a model for prevention education from other institutions across the nation.
- Late-Night, Alcohol-Free and Drug-Free Events: Wednesday night has been identified as a traditionally high risk drinking night for UNC students. CPE offers BINGO Night as a late-night alternative to drinking that is interactive, fun and educational (average attendance of 300 students).
- Party with a Plan: Since 2007, UNC has effectively promoted a 0-1-2-3 plan to communicate responsible drinking guidelines. Each number corresponds with a strategy for responsible drinking, including 0 — Choose not to drink for a variety of reasons; 1— No more than 1 drink an hour; 2 — no more than 2 times per week; 3—No more than 3 drinks in one day.
- Drink Coasters: CPE distributes many resources that promote responsible drinking. This free resource can be used to test alcoholic drinks for some drugs used for sexual assault.
About the Colorado Division of Behavioral Health
The Division of Behavioral Health (DBH) is dedicated to strengthening the health, resiliency, and recovery of Coloradans through quality and effective behavioral health prevention, intervention and treatment.
About the Persistent Drunk Driving Committee
The Persistent Drunk Driving Committee was formed following enactment of the Persistent Drunk Driver Act of 1998. The Department of Human Services, along with State Judicial and the Departments of Transportation and Revenue, are charged with developing and implementing programs that are intended to deter persistent drunk driving and are also intended to educate the public, with particular emphasis on the education of young drivers, regarding the dangers of persistent drunk driving.