Introduction

Harmful and underage drinking remain significant problems on U.S. campuses, despite our collective efforts to address them. Higher education officials understand that, all too often, alcohol-related problems can seem intractable, leading to questions and frustration over how best to reduce student drinking and its negative consequences.

Why Intervene? College Drinking Is a Big Deal

While some see college drinking, even to excess, as a harmless rite of passage, it often results in adverse consequences for students and their schools.

Consequences for Students:

  • Academic fallout: Missed classes, poor school performance, withdrawal from courses, and dropping out
  • Health problems: Alcohol use disorder and other alcohol-related problems, such as sleep issues and depression
  • Acute risks: Impaired driving, unsafe sex, fights, sexual assaults, suicide attempts, unintentional injuries, overdoses, and death.

Even students who don’t drink may experience secondhand effects, such as disrupted study and sleep, or being the victim of an alcohol-related assault

Consequences for Schools:

  • Higher costs for health care and security
  • Costs related to campus vandalism
  • Costs related to attrition and the need for additional recruitment
  • Damage to a school’s reputation

College drinking is a big deal. The problem is complex and challenging, but you can reduce the likelihood of alcohol-related harm to your students. Commit to a plan using evidence-based interventions.

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) developed the CollegeAIM guide and website to help college personnel choose wisely among the many potential interventions to address harmful and underage college student drinking.

The centerpiece of the guide is a user-friendly, matrix-based tool developed with input from leading college alcohol researchers, along with college student life and alcohol and other drug (AOD) program staff. With this “college alcohol intervention matrix”—or CollegeAIM tool—school officials can easily use research-based information to inform decisions about alcohol intervention strategies.

If you are involved in efforts to reduce underage drinking and prevent alcohol-related harm on your campus, you are in a critical position to improve the health and safety of your students—and NIAAA’s CollegeAIM can help.

How can CollegeAIM help?

It can be challenging to decide where to focus your prevention efforts and dollars—especially given the magnitude of the problem and the dozens of varied interventions available.  

CollegeAIM provides the evidence-based information you need to compare a broad range of alcohol interventions. By rating the relative effectiveness and other characteristics of nearly 60 strategies, CollegeAIM will help you:

  • Identify strategies most likely to reduce drinking and its harmful consequences,
  • See how your current strategies compare with other options,
  • Find new, research-based strategies to consider, and
  • Select a combination of approaches that meets the needs of your students and campus.

Where does CollegeAIM fit into an overall prevention planning process?

CollegeAIM, with its matrix-based tool, guide, website, and related resources, is meant to be used in conjunction with your school’s own processes for anticipating and responding to the needs of your student body, campus environment, and surrounding community. You probably already apply a variation of these steps for college prevention programs:

  • Assess the problems on your campus and set priorities,
  • Select strategies by exploring evidence-based interventions,
  • Plan how you’ll carry out the chosen strategies and how you’ll measure results, and
  • Take action—implement the chosen strategies, evaluate them, and refine your program.

CollegeAIM supports the second step, select strategies. For help with the other phases, please see the Supporting Resources section.

What’s on this site?

To help you choose an appropriate mix of effective, evidence-based interventions, CollegeAIM contains two matrices: one for environmental-level interventions, that target the campus community and student population as a whole, and the other for interventions that target individual students, including those in higher-risk groups such as first-year students, student athletes, members of Greek organizations, and mandated students. Beyond rating the relative effectiveness of these strategies, the matrices provide estimates for anticipated costs, barriers to implementation, and other factors. For each intervention, you will find citations for related research, as well as potential resources.

This site also provides a strategy planning worksheet, answers to frequently asked questions, and a list of additional supporting resources.