UI Joins NIH Group to Combat Student Drinking

MOSCOW, Idaho – Sept. 21, 2015 — The University of Idaho has joined universities around the nation and the National Institutes of Health to develop a new resource to combat underage drinking by students.

The new tool — called CollegeAIM (Alcohol Intervention Matrix) — will be unveiled Tuesday, Sept. 22, 2015, during a national media conference.

Statistics have long shown that the first six weeks of a college freshman’s year can be a dangerous time regarding underage drinking. Nearly 40 percent of college students report binge drinking (having five or more drinks per occasion). The risks are high: There are an estimated 1,825 student deaths each year in the U.S., and an estimated 696,000 injuries related to alcohol, according to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA).

CollegeAIM offers a user-friendly guide and website that rates the effectiveness and costs for nearly 60 alcohol intervention strategies. It allows institutions to find a program that is effective, affordable and logistically manageable for their unique institution.

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UI President Chuck Staben is one of 13 members of the NIAAA College Presidents Working Group to Address Harmful and Underage Student Drinking, which requested a resource like CollegeAIM in order to deal with problem drinking on campuses.

“This tool will be a very valuable resource for the University of Idaho and colleges nationwide,” Staben said. “As Vandals, we are committed to ensuring our students are learning in a safe, healthy environment and reducing the risks associated with underage and binge drinking.”

The tool will allow universities to implement data-driven, research-based initiatives to combat unsafe drinking.

Leadership from the UI Counseling and Testing Services will take part in the call Tuesday. The University of Idaho has taken a number of recent steps to combat underage drinking, primarily by increasing collaboration and capacity for delivering programs. The university has hired a full-time drug and alcohol coordinator. A cohort of student peer educators is trained in substance abuse issues and education every year and visits dormitories and living spaces. The university has implemented a number of data-driven, research-based initiatives, including Alcohol 101, a peer-facilitated outreach program; Red Watch Band, a bystander intervention program; regular alcohol screenings for students; and a SMART Recovery group for students who wish to focus on recovery or abstinence from alcohol. In addition, a mandatory “Think About It” orientation program helps new students examine issues such as substance abuse through interactive, realistic scenarios and guided self-reflection.

Editor’s note: To learn more about CollegeAIM, media are invited to register for the live news conference, which will be held at 7 a.m. Pacific time. You may view the conference atwww.visualwebcaster.com/CollegeAIM