About the Interventions in CollegeAIM

Campus and Community Partners Can Help

College AOD offices are often small in staff and budget, and some interventions may be beyond their purview. You can expand your reach and impact by enlisting people in other campus departments and in your community to help reduce alcohol-related harm among your students.

Who on your campus can help? A few possibilities:

  • Health and counseling centers can conduct routine alcohol screening and brief interventions with your students.
  • Behavioral and social science departments, both instructors and students, can plan and execute data collection and evaluate your interventions.
  • Campus security can support onsite environmental interventions and share data on alcohol-related incidents.

Some of the most effective strategies are carried out in the communities and states surrounding the campuses, such as enforcing the minimum legal drinking age. Campus leaders can be influential in bringing about off-campus environmental changes that protect students.

To achieve success off campus, partner with leaders and advocates in your community and state. Building these partnerships takes time, so you may want to make it part of a long-term plan. For models of campus-community collaboration, see the Frequently Asked Questions.

In the past several decades, significant progress has been made in clarifying what does and doesn’t work to prevent alcohol-related problems among college students. Hundreds of studies have been published in peer-reviewed journals, providing the foundation for CollegeAIM.

Of the intervention strategies in CollegeAIM, more than half have shown some degree of effectiveness, about a third have mixed results or have too little evidence to warrant an effectiveness rating, and a few have been shown to be ineffective. All are included so you can see how your current strategies stack up; identify other, perhaps more effective options; and compare costs, barriers to implementation, and other information to help your planning and decision-making process.

Two types of strategies: individual and environmental.

To cover the full spectrum of alcohol-related problems most campuses face, CollegeAIM includes 24 individual-level strategies and 36 environmental-level strategies.

Individual-level strategies are designed to change your students’ knowledge, attitudes, and behaviors related to alcohol so that students drink less, take fewer risks, and experience fewer harmful consequences. Categories of individual-level interventions include education and awareness programs, cognitive-behavioral skills-based approaches, motivation and feedback-related approaches, and behavioral interventions by health professionals.

Environmental-level strategies are designed to change the campus and community environments in which student drinking occurs. Often, a major goal is to reduce the availability of alcohol, because research shows that reducing alcohol availability cuts consumption and harmful consequences on campuses as well as in the general population. Note that by focusing on single, stand-alone environmental strategies, this tool does not include multi-component environmental programs, some of which have shown success. Some strategies used in successful multi-component programs, such as party patrols, may not have had enough research to demonstrate their effectiveness when used in isolation. Even so, this strategy and others designed to reduce alcohol availability may add to the effectiveness of a comprehensive campus program.

A mix of strategies is best.

Your greatest chance for creating a safer campus will likely come from a combination of individual- and environmental-level interventions that work together to maximize positive effects. Individual-level strategies generally aim to assist students identified as problem, at-risk, or alcohol-dependent drinkers. It is important to engage these students as early as possible. Environmental strategies seek to affect the behavior of the overall student population by addressing the factors that accommodate or promote underage and high-risk drinking. Reducing the availability of alcohol in the broader campus and community environment, for example, can have wide-ranging positive effects for all students and the campus as a whole.

In short, as you develop your action plan, remember to include strategies that target individual students, the student body as a whole, and the broader college community.

Cut harmful consequences by reducing student drinking.

The strategies included in CollegeAIM focus primarily on reducing student drinking—and thereby reducing all possible harmful consequences—rather than on trying to prevent particular outcomes such as overdoses, sexual assaults, or alcohol-impaired driving. Three exceptions—amnesty policies, alcohol bystander interventions, and safe ride programs—are also included because a large number of campuses have recently instituted these programs. However, research has not yet established clear evidence of effectiveness for these strategies.

One consequence stands out in magnitude and may be a particular challenge for college AOD staff to address: alcohol-impaired driving. Alcohol-impaired driving accounts for the majority of alcohol-related deaths among college students nationwide. Your efforts to reduce student drinking will likely reduce the risk of alcohol-impaired driving as well; however, if you would like to take specific additional steps to help prevent your students from driving while impaired, please see the Frequently Asked Questions.