UH focuses on safer drinking

As students reach legal drinking age they may encounter any number of problems, from coping with alcohol abuse to balancing drinking habits with studies. Fortunately for UH students, help with everything from binge drinking to Alcohol 101 will be just a stone’s throw away this coming year.

In an effort to reduce student alcohol consumption, the U.S. Department of Education awarded the UH Wellness Center a $124,000 grant July 25 to fund this year’s alcohol prevention programs.

The Exemplary, Effective and Promising Alcohol or Other Drug Abuse Prevention Programs on Campuses grant was awarded to four other U.S. colleges, including the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the University of Pennsylvania, University of Wyoming and Virginia Commonwealth University.

"We’re very excited that our students are making smart and healthy choices," UH Wellness Center Director Gail Gillan said.

Intent and Motivation: Alcohol Group Exercise, a UH Wellness Center program recognized by the U.S. Department of Education, aims to inform participants about alcohol management and healthy alcohol consumption levels.

"The goal of the IMAGE program is to give students information about self-protective behaviors and give them a perspective of the frequency of alcohol use on campus and for their specific group, such as fraternity or sorority," Project Director Gaylyn Maurer said. "Many students overestimate the use of alcohol on campus."

According to a Spring 2008 survey conducted by the UH Wellness Center, 80 percent of UH students reported they drink between zero to two drinks per week.

The UH Wellness center provides workshops and events to highlight the risks of alcohol and illegal drug consumption.

One of the Center’s major goals is to reduce the level of alcohol consumption among fraternities, sororities, athletes and residential students.

Another UH Wellness program, Alcohol 101, is a computer-based program that provides information about alcohol, its effects, Blood Alcohol Concentration and the effects of drinking on the body.

The Education Department’s Higher Education Center evaluated the IMAGE program’s effectiveness using a quasi-experiment to determine whether participants benefited from the program.

According to the USDOE, results showed students who attended the information sessions consumed fewer drinks than those who did not participate.

According to the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism, 1,700 college students die each year from alcohol-related injuries, such as motor vehicle accidents, and another 599,000 are injured as a result of alcohol consumption. In addition, 2.1 million students between the ages of 18 and 24 drove under the influence of alcohol in 2002.

The UH Wellness Center, housed in Room 35, University Center, provides education and prevention programs to UH students. The center also aims to reduce drunken driving accidents through information sessions. For more information on UH Wellness Center programs, visit

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