Although some students begin drinking in high school, a significant percentage begins in college and goes on to drink much more heavily (Busteed, 2005; Pandina, 2002). Studies concerning this “college effect” (Greenbaum et al., 2005) have shown that by simply enrolling in college, students increase their drinking and their risk for serious consequences. Among college students and other 18 to 25 year olds, dangerous drinking behavior (“binge” drinking, driving while impaired) and alcohol-related injury, death, and assault have increased since 1998 (Hingson et al., 2005). In addition, “secondhand” negative consequences from excessive drinking are experienced by other students and residents of local neighborhoods (e.g., physical and sexual assaults, vandalism, insults and humiliation, and sleep disturbances) (White & Jackson, 2004/2005). Risk factors within this population include those concerning the transition into a new and liberated lifestyle, and a campus culture that glamorizes drinking “rites of passage”, as well as increased access to and availability of alcohol (Goldman et al., 2002; Bonnie & O’Connell, 2003; Wechsler & Nelson, 2008).
DAS funds numerous initiatives that address the issue of alcohol and other drug use on college campuses in New Jersey.
Four of eleven Strategic Prevention Framework State Incentive Grant awardees provide prevention and early intervention services on college campuses. Overarching goals of the projects include: to reduce AOD use and abuse among 18 to 25 year old students; to increase awareness of harmful consequences of AOD use and abuse; to modify the existing norms on campus to be less favorable towards AOD use and abuse; and, to fill identified gaps in prevention services at the on campus.
DAS also provides support for recovery support and environmental management strategies at Rutgers and William Paterson Universities. This initiative that began in the fall of 2008 provides funding to enable the schools to provide recovery and substance-free housing to students in recovery, students at risk of a SUD, and students not in recovery who choose not to misuse alcohol and illicit drugs, with a supportive community that promotes physical, psychological, social, and spiritual health. By providing this support, it is easier for a student that is in recovery to thrive in the college setting and work toward their academic goals. It also provides comfort to families who have to deal with the fears and reservations of letting their recovering loved one enter an environment that is well-known for drinking and partying.