Success of AlcoholEdu results in four more years of funding

Survey results show 45 percent of students think about knowledge gained from AlcoholEdu before a night of drinking. But binge drinking, especially involving hard liquor, remains a concern.

AlcoholEdu, an online program introduced in 2006 to educate freshmen about alcohol consumption, has received continued funding, thanks to survey findings that suggest it works at Stanford.

Ralph Castro, manager of the substance abuse prevention program in Health Promotion Services at Vaden Health Center, recently presented to Student Affairs colleagues aggregated survey results from four classes of Stanford students. The results show that 71 percent of respondents found the program at least somewhat effective, and 77 percent acknowledged they learned something.

Among the other results:

  • 49 percent of respondents said the material better prepared them to deal with alcohol at Stanford.
  • 32 percent said the program changed their attitudes about alcohol.
  • 45 percent acknowledged thinking about information gleaned from AlcoholEdu before a night of drinking.
  • 64 percent would recommend the program for use with other incoming freshmen.
  • 41 percent said information from AlcoholEdu led them to behave more responsibly with alcohol.

The survey suggests the double-barreled success of reduction in alcohol use and reduction in consequences as a result of alcohol abuse, Castro said.

“The most significant thing I took from this is that about 70 percent say it is effective, at least somewhat,” said Castro. “Even if that number were only, say, 50 percent, in any particular dorm a resident fellow would tell you that if 50 percent of the students feel better prepared to deal with alcohol, that’s a big number. It’s important to interpret the results through that lens.”

Castro also collaborated with graduate student Somik Raha, who has been researching decision-making models based on institutional values, to evaluate AlcoholEdu on a more quantitative basis. They weighed the $18,000 annual cost of the program against the cost of such factors as emergency room trips due to alcohol poisoning, police personnel time to respond to drinking emergencies, time of residence deans dealing with alcohol crises and the cost of missed classes. The results consistently showed that AlcoholEdu more than pays for itself.

Armed with both sets of data and a strong recommendation from Stanford’s Alcohol Advisory Board, Castro successfully approached Risk Management to garner support for the program’s continuation. The President’s Fund provided much of the initial funding for the program in 2006.

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