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Be One of Us- Low Risk Drinking for Young Adults 18-25yr

Hosted by: Talbert House Prevention Services in Clinton and Warren Counties and Wilminigton College, Wilmington OH

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Please briefly describe your Communities Talk activity.

During Year 2 of our Be One of Us social norms initiative, we decided to focus on young adults ages 18–25 and women. We partnered with Wilmington College in Wilmington, OH, for our Communities Talk activity, to raise awareness on binge drinking. We used our Communities Talk funds to create and print informational materials specifically aimed toward our young adult population (e.g., college students).We also developed posters to be hung in residence halls, Greek houses, and other college buildings.

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How does underage drinking and substance misuse affect your community?

Young adults are more likely to binge drink in our community than adults over the legal drinking age, with only 15% of adults over the drinking age reporting that they binge drink – meaning 85% of adults do not binge drink. For this reason, we thought that focusing on young adult binge drinking was important for us to highlight. Moreover, the rate of young adult women binge drinking has risen and is now equal to the rate of young adult men binge drinking.

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What goal(s) did you hope to accomplish with your Communities Talk activity?

  • Reduce prevalence of underage drinking and other substances in community
  • Create an ongoing conversation about underage drinking and substance use prevention in the community
  • Foster collaboration between community stakeholders for continued underage drinking and substance use prevention activities
  • Create new resources/materials (e.g., publications, handouts, factsheets, videos, graphics) to support prevention of underage drinking and misuse of other substances
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Who did you involve in your activity planning, and who did your activity impact?

Two staff members from Talbert House Prevention Services in Clinton and Warren counties met with the Associate Vice President for Student Affairs; the Director of New Student Orientation, Greek Life & Student Activities; Advisor for Greek Council and Activities Programming Board to plan a presentation during new student orientation on August 31. The goal was to reach students during their first week on campus and familiarize them with college policies, information about low-risk alcohol use, and college/community resources. Ongoing communication to obtain approval for posters and other materials and coordinate set-up took place. The original plan allowed for small-group interactions and hands-on activities about alcohol use on campus. Unfortunately, severe weather forced the college to cancel this outdoor event. Discussions took place to find another time to present the education program to students.

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Which Communities Talk resources (or other SAMHSA resources) were most helpful for your activity?

  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov website
  • StopAlcoholAbuse.gov What’s New email newsletter
  • Communities Talk planning guides
  • Communities Talk toolkits
  • Communities Talk support staff
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Did the COVID-19 pandemic affect the planning or execution of your activities?

Masking and social distancing were required. Students participating were spread out in the large dining facility, and some were not able to see the presenters. It was difficult to have a Q&A with so many people in such a large space. Written responses to key questions were used instead to collect feedback from students about their attitudes and behaviors related to alcohol use.

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What other challenge(s) did you face in planning your activity this year?

  • Unforeseen difficulties when planning our activity
  • Miscommunication between college administrators caused confusion about allowing our event to occur during new student orientation. We were asked to reschedule. In the end, severe weather forced the cancellation of the events which were scheduled to be held outside.
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How did you overcome these challenges?

We rescheduled the education program for October 4. The original date was aimed to connect with new students as they came to campus; the new date coincided with the fraternity/sorority "rush" week and allowed us to present the education program to all students connected with Greek organizations, including current members and those students about to pledge. We presented a 30-minute education program to approximately 150 students (20% of the entire student population) and five adult leaders. The original activities meant for small-group conversations were modified due to the large group. We conducted a modified "listening session" by providing paper and pens at each table of four to five students, and asked four key questions. We allowed about 3 minutes for discussions at the tables, with someone at each table designated to record the group's responses. Responses from 35 tables were collected. The responses indicate the students took the assignment seriously and provided valuable insights to their attitudes, misunderstandings, and behaviors. This information will be used to develop additional education and messages for the young adult population. Key findings: Alcohol use is "normal," a rite of passage; binge drinking is common on campus; drinking is part of routines, social life, before frat meetings, and used as stress relief; "responsible" drinking focused on safe driving, personal safety(date rape drugs), not blacking out, and staying "functional"; binge drinking was connected to alcohol use disorder.

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What are your next steps?

  • Host follow-up meetings or activities
  • Support new prevention policies, legislation, or social ordinances
  • Continue the partnership with Wilmington College administrators and health staff, conduct small group programs at fraternities and sororities in February 2022, and provide education program listening sessions at Sinclair Community College and in the career development centers.

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