Binge drinking and associated high-risk behaviors among Ohio University students declined in 2009 compared with two years earlier, according to a survey from the Division of Student Affairs.
Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi credits the university's many outreach initiatives for the drop in numbers, including a mandatory alcohol awareness course for all first-year students, new judicial sanctions, an alcohol awareness marketing campaign and the medical emergency assistance (MEA) program, which allows students to seek medical treatment for themselves or a friend as a result of an alcohol or drug emergency without receiving judicial sanctions. Students taking advantage of the MEA program are required to participate in an intervention program and students receiving emergency treatment can only utilize the program once. Sixteen students utilized the MEA program during the 2008-09 academic year.
"Ohio University has taken a multi-faceted approach to educating our students about high-risk drinking behaviors," Lombardi said. "All signs indicate that the behavior of many of our students is changing to that of moderation over excess. It is great to see such a positive response from students about these shared initiatives."
In addition to the decrease in drinking behavior, the number of alcohol-related judicial cases has also dropped 43 percent during the same period, Lombardi said.
The student survey was conducted in 17 undergraduate classes with 1,211 respondents from a population of 16,644 Athens campus undergraduates. It has a margin of error of approximately 2.7 percent at a 95 percent confidence interval, producing statistically significant results. The Alcohol and Other Drug (AOD) Survey is conducted every other year as a part of the U.S. Department of Education's Drug-Free Schools Act Biennial Review Report.
Among the survey's findings:
- The percentage of students engaging in high-risk, or binge drinking, behavior dropped more than 5 percentage points in 2009 compared with 2007.
- The percentage of students who say they missed class as a result of drinking fell to 40 percent in 2009, from 51 percent two years ago. Meanwhile, the percentage of students who had unplanned sexual activity as a result of drinking fell to 32 percent, from 37 percent. And the percentage of students who said they did something they later regretted as a result of alcohol use fell to 42 percent from 51 percent.
- 98 percent of students are aware of Ohio University's alcohol and other drug judicial policies.
Lombardi noted that the drop in binge drinking and judiciary offenses was encouraging and said the university would continue to work aggressively toward curbing alcohol and other drug abuse among students. Additional materials are being developed to address recreational drug use and students' abuse of prescription drugs, he said.
Ohio University has been using the environmental strategies as defined by National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) 3-in-1 Framework since 2003, which focuses on working to change the physical, social, economic and legal environment of the campus and community. For more information on harm-reduction strategies at Ohio University visit www.ohio.edu/alcohol/ or contact the Campus Involvement Center at 740-593-4025.