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MU Decreases Binge Drinking by 25 Percent Over Past Five Years

U.S. Department of Education names MU alcohol and drug prevention center a “model program”

November 10th, 2010

Story Contact: Christian Basi, 573-882-4430, BasiC@missouri.edu

By Brad Fischer

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Life is not a spectator sport. Making an impact on those around you requires thoughtful action, not just watching the world go by. The same principle applies to reducing dangerous alcohol and drug activities among University of Missouri students. In the past five years, the percentage of MU students engaging in dangerous drug and alcohol activities has decreased significantly, and as a result, Mizzou’s alcohol and drug abuse prevention program is receiving national recognition.

The U.S. Department of Education has cited the Wellness Resource Center as a “model program” and awarded a grant to the program. Money from the grant will be used to begin a new project, “Life is Not a Spectator Sport,” to encourage students to intervene in other students’ risky behaviors.

According to an annual survey conducted by the Wellness Resource Center, over the past five years the program has significantly reduced student involvement in several risky situations and behaviors including:

  • 25% decrease in binge drinking (five or more drinks in one sitting).
  • 24% decrease in binge drinking for students under 21.
  • 71% decrease in students purchasing alcohol without having ID checked
  • 73% decrease in underage students getting alcohol from someone they knew at the bar

“It is great to be recognized for our accomplishments,” said Kim Dude, director of the Wellness Resource Center. “Now, we want to work to increase the ordinary student’s role in prevention. We want students to step up and step in to a situation to keep their friends safe.”

The Wellness Resource Center plans to enhance their prevention efforts through the new grant-funded project that Dude hopes will empower bystanders to intervene when they see a peer engaging in a dangerous activity. The idea that students can help other students stay out of trouble will be included on all materials produced by the Wellness Resource Center. The center also will increase publicity of alcohol-related law enforcement and the consequences that violators could face.

The prevention program at MU focuses on social norming, encouraging students to make responsible decisions and fostering relationships within the campus and community. Each year, the Wellness Resource Center conducts a social norming survey to gauge the behavior and values of the student body. Throughout the year, the center publicizes the survey results in campaigns that include events, promotional t-shirts and ad campaigns. Dude serves as chair of the Access to Alcohol Action Team; center leaders meet with bar owners, community members, the Columbia Police Department, and Greek fraternity and sorority leadership.

To be named a “model program”, a program must show that it has made a significant impact on the campus community, and that the program could be implemented successfully on other campuses. Each model program receives a $130,000 grant to begin a new project. MU is one of five universities to earn the “model program” recognition. MU also won the award in 1994, 1999 and 2006.

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