U.S. Department of Education Salutes UH Alcohol Prevention Program

UH Wellness awarded grant for effective new program focused on encouraging healthy choices

Reckless drinking on college campuses can have disastrous effects on a student’s health and academic performance. In fact, alcohol factors in nearly 600,000 student injuries annually and contributes to class problems for 25 percent of U.S. college students.

To help reduce alcohol abuse among college students, researchers from University of Houston Wellness developed an alcohol prevention program that already has proven effective. So much so, it’s been awarded a $124,000 grant by the United States Department of Education’s (USDOE) Higher Education Center.

The UH program is among only five U.S. colleges recognized by USDOE’s Models of Exemplary, Effective and Promising Alcohol or Other Drug Abuse Prevention Programs on College Campuses Grant Program.

“The UH Wellness prevention program, which is research based and theory driven, has been gaining respect and attention in the prevention field over the last several years,” said Gail Gillan, director of UH Wellness and principal investigator for the grant. “We are proud to have brought such national recognition to the university.”

A major component of UH’s program is Intent and Motivation: Alcohol Group Exercise (IMAGE), which provides informational sessions to student groups including fraternities, sororities, athletes and residential students. Session content includes details of alcohol consumption at UH, and participants are asked to select a self-protective behavior to incorporate into their lifestyles. Examples of self-protective behaviors include abstinence from alcohol, prioritizing academics over alcohol, eating before drinking, drinking less, managing alcohol intake and choosing friends who do not drink excessively.

The impact of IMAGE has been measured through pre-and post-tests as well as campus-wide survey data indicating that IMAGE participants were statistically more likely to consume less drinks per week, drink fewer times per month and experience fewer negative consequences than those who did not attend the session.

“Much of this program focuses on encouraging students to make healthy choices,” said Gaylyn Maurer, outreach counselor at UH Wellness and the program’s co-investigator. “Thanks to this grant, we will be able to expand the program, so that it continues to make a positive impact on students.”

UH Wellness in room 35 of the Unversity Center (Arbor level) offers campus-wide education and prevention programs related to social, occupational, spiritual, intellectual, physical and social wellness. It sponsors campus-wide events and offers workshops and speakers on wellness topics and supports a peer education program including academic credit and certification options. UH Wellness also enhances student learning by serving as a resource for wellness information. To learn more about the center, visit http://las.uh.edu/wc/.

USDOE’s Higher Education Center provides support to all institutions of higher education in their efforts to address the problems of alcohol and other drug abuse and violence. For additional information, visit www.higheredcenter.org.

About the University of Houston
The University of Houston, Texas’ premier metropolitan research and teaching institution, is home to more than 40 research centers and institutes and sponsors more than 300 partnerships with corporate, civic and governmental entities. UH, the most diverse research university in the country, stands at the forefront of education, research and service with more than 35,000 students.