Office of Justice Programs (OJP)

Collaborating to Change College Substance Use

BJA Program(s): Edward Byrne Memorial Justice Assistance Grant (JAG) Program
State(s): IA

Grantee Agency: See below

Grant Amount/Year(s): FY 2007/$97,970 ; FY 2008/$97,970 ; FY 2009/$97,970

About the Program:

The "Collaborating to Change College Substance Use Project" works to 1) Reduce binge drinking and marijuana use among community college students, 2) Create an environment on campus that supports low-risk decision making, and 3) Increase effectiveness and enforcement of existing laws and policies related to binge drinking and marijuana use. To accomplish these goals, the project formed a collaborate group of key stakeholders including faculty, law enforcement, student housing owners, students, and substance abuse prevention experts. This group has worked together over the past three years to raise awareness of substance abuse issues both on and off campus, identify strategies to create a safer college environment for students, provide training on substance abuse interventions, and implement policies to better address the substance abuse that occurs among students.

The project has been creative in its methods to capture college students' attention. A variety of strategies have been implemented including t-shirt campaigns, poster campaigns denoting comical but unfortunate social risks of binge drinking, drinking and driving simulators, and articles posted on the back of bathroom stalls.

Program Successes/Effect on the Community:

  • Eight housing complexes are now referring students to the Prime for Life intervention program. Nine classes have been held since the program began. 100% of students completing the course identified intent to decrease substance use.
  • The collaborative student/faculty group to address substance abuse went from non-existent prior to the start of this project to an active membership of 22. In total, nineteen individuals from Kirkwood and the surrounding community have actively assisted with the implementation of at least one prevention effort in the past year.
  • 83% of the Kirkwood faculty and housing staff who responded to an email survey stated an increase in substance abuse knowledge as a result in participation in this program.
  • Perhaps the most significant outcome for evidence of increased enforcement has been a 350% increase in drug charges and a 31% increase in alcohol related charges within two complexes that house primarily Kirkwood students. These are two of the most actively involved housing complexes in this project, and the increase has been a direct result of the narcotics unit checks initiated through this project.
  • Annual narcotics trainings have been implemented for campus faculty, nearby student housing faculty, local law enforcement, and other community members.
  • Eight housing complexes have adopted new substance abuse policies since the initiation of this program. As a result, drug-free environment policies can be enforced and students are now getting the help needed to address substance abuse when they are caught violating an alcohol or drug policy in their apartment.

Collaborating to Change College Substance Use is a successful example of how to engage in prevention efforts with young people through collaboration. The program's focus on substance abuse prevention and helping students engage in more healthy decision making can serve to immunize against delinquency, youth violence, and the damaging effects of teen substance abuse. Negative peer group influence, alcohol and drug use are among the risk factors predictive of gang membership. The Collaborating to Change College Substance Abuse promotes a positive prevention-based approach to addressing the chronic challenge of campus substance abuse.

Learn More:
To learn more about the program, please contact:
Melissa Walker
Area Substance Abuse Council
Phone: 319-390-1884

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