The misuse of alcohol by college students is a great concern not only here at the University of New Mexico, but also with the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). In an effort to make college students more aware of the consequences of alcohol abuse, the NCAA has teamed up with a number of member institutions and has developed a grant program for alcohol education titled, CHOICES.
It's an effort to educate all students, not just student-athletes, about the risks involved with the misuse of alcohol. The program was developed through the support of the NCAA Foundation and Anheuser-Busch Companies, Inc.
"The Campus Office of Substance Abuse Prevention (COSAP) and UNM Athletics are collaborating on an alcohol prevention initiative called ‘Choices For A Healthy U' funded through a grant from the NCAA," said COSAP Program Manager John Steiner. "Vice President for Athletics Paul Krebs and his staff have shown that they are truly interested in the welfare of our student athletes, and UNM students in general, with their energy and enthusiasm for this important collaborative effort."
"The grant presents a tremendous opportunity for athletics and the campus community to partner in battling an important problem that has traditionally impacted not only student-athletes but all students at the university," said Henry Villegas, assistant athletics director, Academic Services. "It supports the university mission and ultimately supports student welfare and retention, which are both very important to all of us here at the University of New Mexico."
Through the CHOICES program, the NCAA provides funding for member institutions and conferences to integrate athletics into campus-wide efforts to reduce alcohol abuse. CHOICES projects must partner athletics with other campus partners in the development and implementation of effective alcohol-education projects on college campuses. At UNM, COSAP has partnered with Athletics to help raise awareness.
One aspect of the initiative is called the electronic CheckUp To Go (e-Chug), an online program that provides personalized feedback about individual drinking and risk patterns, aspirations and goals as well as helpful resources. As part of the initiative at UNM, all student-athletes are being asked to complete the e-Chug. It's also being used optionally for new students during the orientation process.
"The e-Chug is an online alcohol instrument that students fill out with their current drinking levels and get some good feedback on their level of risk assumed, potential consequences, and where they fit into college ‘norms,'" said Steiner. "It also gives them lots of info on how to moderate their drinking and stay safe."
Other objectives of the initiative include: a videotaped message featuring Lobo head coaches broadcast during home football and men's and women's basketball games; Cherry stadium cups with social norms message distributed to students picking up student tickets at the UNM ticket offices; a presentation on the impact of alcohol on athletic performance delivered to teams and coaches by student-athletes; a campus-wide social norms media campaign aimed at the entire student body and posters are in residence halls and other campus locations.
"UNM Athletics advisor Katie Scanlon and I have made some great progress on the objectives of the project, we've had over 275 of our student athletes complete the online e-Chug," said Steiner. "And with the help of two student-athletes, Jacori Greer (football) and Gianna Cavuoto (women's soccer), we've prepared an athlete to athlete presentation which will begin next spring on the effects of alcohol on performance.
Steiner is also meeting with academic advisors to make them aware of the connection between substance abuse and academic success and retention.
"The first one was very successful," said Steiner. "We are trying to line up presentations with groups of advisers and hope to make that happen this spring."
COSAP is a program of the UNM Center on Alcoholism, Substance Abuse and Addictions (CASAA). For more information visit: COSAP.
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