Student Programs: 10 Things About Alcohol
Best Practices for Campus Health and Safety
10 Things Every Student Should Know About Drinking
A one-hour interactive program for male and female audiences of all sizes.
Are you at your wits’ end with alcohol programming? It seems that reaching students is getting harder and harder. Scare tactic programs don’t work. Personal-experience programs are only powerful and effective for short-term behavioral impact. “Don’t drink” programs mean nothing to students who want to get wasted while drinking from cups eight times the size of the average human bladder. “This is how alcohol affects your brain programs” put students to sleep—and they know how alcohol affects their brains—that’s why they drink it. Your social norming efforts are beginning to bear fruit, but these efforts are mostly passive. Programming with both active and passive approaches would give you a more comprehensive impact, if you could find an active program that complemented your campus alcohol philosophy. You can…
“Ten Things” is a program that will help you to reinforce your harm reduction emphasis, underline key enforcement initiatives, encourage the use of protective behaviors, empower bystander intervention and discourage the enabling of high-risk consumption. But, “Ten Things” is not about having a dry campus or telling students not to drink. This program will reinforce those students who choose not to drink, or to drink moderately. But, many of our students are going to drink no matter what we do—so let’s get them drinking smarter and drinking more safely.
“BUT YOU CAN’T TEACH STUDENTS HOW TO DRINK!”
No, any moron with a hand and a mouth can figure out how to do that for themselves. Just like anyone can get behind the wheel of a car and figure out pretty quickly how to get it to move. But, classes and licenses are needed to understand advanced control and the rules of the road. Drinking is no different than driving in this regard. It involves a skill set to be done safely and properly. No one is teaching this skill set to students for fear that they will drink or drink more. Do people who take driver’s education drive more because they took the class? Many of our students are going to drink. They are going to endanger themselves. We have an obligation to help them build the skill-set that will allow them to reduce their risk. Doing so will have a long-term behavioral impact, because it changes how students process and control their drinking.
THIS PROGRAM DOES NOT TEACH STUDENTS HOW TO DRINK!
Brett Sokolow has been programming about sexual assault and alcohol risk reduction for over ten years. He is President & CEO of The NCHERM Group. He has done over 1,300 programs at colleges and high schools around the country. He is a seasoned and experienced presenter with student audiences of all sizes and types. Brett offers a frank and blunt reality talk that students tune into and respect. And a little bit of dry wit can’t hurt, but this is not a stand-up comedy act. Brett uses compelling stories and real-life legal cases to make his points, engaging the audience every step of the way. Additionally, Brett can work in data from your school’s policies, CORE, NCHA or other student AOD surveys to reinforce your existing on-campus efforts.
topics this program coverS:
Alcohol Myths and Facts
- Can You Drink Less to Enjoy Alcohol More?
- Be 21, or Understand the Consequences if You Aren’t
- How to Get What You Want Out of Drinking (and Avoid What You Don’t)
- Planning Your Drinking (and How to Stick to Your Plan)
- Understand Signs of Alcohol Poisoning (and What to Do to Help a Friend)
- Portion Control/Food/Pace – and Other Key Protective Behaviors
- Use the Buddy System (Smartly!)
- The Effect of Drinking Games and Pre-Gaming
- Being Conscious of Shifts in Your Tolerance
Are Alcohol Speakers A Best Practice?
“Knowledge-based, informational approaches to addressing alcohol are an ineffective practice” – NIAAA “A Call to Action” (www.collegedrinkingprevention.gov)
In a world of scarce resources and limited opportunities, universities need to be careful about the means they choose to address alcohol issues with students. No one wants to spend good money on a speaker, program or online class, only to have a negligible educational impact. I don’t want you to waste your money, either. I want you to have a strong educational impact from the efforts you put forward. But, I may or may not be the right person to help you. The “Ten Things” program I present is not the right program for every campus, but it might be just the right program for some campuses.
None of the studies state the conclusion that all educational speakers are not a best practice, though I have heard this excuse used by those looking for a reason to avoid the cost of speakers.
Studies such as those done by Larimer and Langford suggest that evaluation of informational, knowledge-based approaches generally do not result in quantifiable positive behavioral change. They don’t reduce high-risk drinking. And, when the NIAAA identified knowledge-based, informational approaches in its Tier 4 (ineffective programs), it very explicitly acknowledged that knowledge-based, informational approaches are not effective WHEN USED ALONE. If you want to use my “Ten Things” program in isolation, as your only alcohol outreach to students, I don’t want your business. I want to be effective, and if you use me or any other educational effort in isolation, you’ll deserve the unimpressive results you get.
I want you to fit me into the comprehensive strategy that you have in place. If my approach makes sense thematically, and fits with your high-risk drinking philosophical approach, “Ten Things” will reinforce and strengthen the overall impact of your efforts. I ask you to evaluate the impact of “Ten Things.” I’ll provide pre and post-tests. Guest speakers, when used as part of a comprehensive strategy, can strengthen that strategy. We connect with students and create engagement that many other types of interventions do not achieve. Guest speakers have been used by colleges for years because our educational value makes intuitive sense. Give us the right supportive environment, don’t expect us to be a one-hour cure, and we will help you to achieve the results you desire.
For those of you familiar with the NIAAA’s four-tiered approach, I think you will find that “Ten Things” is not easily shoehorned into any one tier.
- It certainly is not a typical knowledge-based, informational approach like those evaluated in the research and included in Tier 4. It does not teach any student how to calculate BAC, because that just helps them to know when they’ve hit that .28 BAC they’ve been shooting for.
- “Ten Things” has elements of Tier 1 programs, which show evidence of effectiveness. The Alcohol Skills Training Program has for years helped to equip students with tools for moderate drinking, and “Ten Things” incorporates next generation ideas for encouraging moderate drinking amongst students who choose to drink in a large-audience format.
- Tier 2 focuses on effective programs for generalized audiences, which may be applicable to college audiences. Many of these strategies embrace enforcement and consequence-based approaches, and you will find that “Ten Things” has a strong component emphasizing both the nature of enforcement of campus alcohol rules and local laws, and the consequences for violations.
- You will also find the program incorporates aspects of Tier 3, the promising practices. Much of the emphasis on harm reduction and protective behaviors is grounded in social norms, and the program strives to incorporate positive campus norms based on your data.
If you are looking for a theoretically-sound, philosophy-grounded program on problem drinking from a presenter who knows the research, understands the literature and wants to be an effective part of your overall strategy, “Ten Things” is the right program.
In addition to our student programs, The NCHERM Group offers a variety of risk management workshops which can accompany any student program.