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SAMHSA honors colleges for tech solutions to high-risk drinking

September 19, 2013
by Dennis Grantham, Editor-in-Chief
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Solutions combine knowledge and technology to combat alcohol abuse on campus

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) announced the three prizewinners for its Technology-based Products to Prevent High-risk Drinking among College Students Challenge.  SAMHSA launched this Challenge in May to help decrease high-risk drinking among college students. 

High-risk drinking is widely prevalent among many college campuses.  For example, according to the latest findings from SAMHSA’s National Survey on Drug Use and Health 40.1 percent of full-time college students were binge drinkers. SAMHSA opened the challenge to seek solutions to prevent high-risk drinking among college students through cost-effective, portable, technology-based products.  Winning solutions also needed to effectively reach college students and their parents, as well as administrators, faculty, and staff.  In addition, they had to be adaptable in order to meet the local needs of academic institutions throughout the United States.

Of the 29 eligible entries, three stood out: 

  • The first-place prize of $60,000 went to Syracuse University’s BeWise, an interactive website designed to reduce the occurrence and negative outcomes of excessive drinking by providing students with education regarding alcohol poisoning.  The website emphasizes the need for awareness of one’s limits to reduce excessive consumption, knowledge of the signs of alcohol poisoning to know when to act, and familiarity with emergency numbers and responses to know how to act in a potential alcohol poisoning situation.
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  • The second-place prize of $30,000 went to the University of Central Florida’s Expectancy Challenge Alcohol Literacy Curriculum (ECALC) mobile application, which focuses on changing key expectancy processes to reduce risky alcohol use and presents information in a nonjudgmental manner to minimize student resistance.  The ECALC uses an expectancy challenge to reduce alcohol consumption, a technique identified as empirically validated by the NIAAA in its 2002 report on college drinking.
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  • The third-place prize of $10,000 went to the University of Tennessee’s Alcohol and You, an online module that educates all incoming first-year students about alcohol, their choice to use alcohol, and the impact that choosing to use alcohol can have on their success as a student. The module provides information on several topical areas, including alcohol facts, alcohol and health, alcohol and legal consequences, and alcohol and social life.

SAMHSA congratulates all three prizewinners and commends them for their dedication and commitment to the health and well-being of their students.

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