OC agency aims to stop alcoholism

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The County of Orange Health Care Agency unveiled its new initiative to help curb alcohol abuse among students and discussed future efforts in its first meeting on Monday.

The agency’s Alcohol, Drug Education and Prevention Team bestowed grants to Cal State Fullerton and the University of California, Irvine to implement a plan to use a variety of methods to reduce high-risk drinking among Orange County’s young adults, ages 18 to 24-years-old.

“We are all here for the common goal of keeping our students safe when it comes to alcohol abuse,” said Dean of Students Kandy Mink.

The reason for obtaining the grant was initiated by various incidents that occurred on CSU campuses four years ago. These incidents included one death and one hospitalization. The campuses were concerned about the alcohol abuse, so the committee created a plan to focus on the problem. Some of the various ways they tried to seek out students was to reach them through sub-communities among first-time freshmen, the Greek Life system, athletes and resident students, said Mink.

Once the schools received the grants, the Campus Community Alcohol Management Project was born. With this project, CCAMP aims to reduce access to alcohol by underage drinkers in order to result in a decline of underage students who purchase alcohol. Additionally, it aims to result in reducing the number of students who supply alcohol to youth and the number of students who experience alcohol-related problems such as alcohol poisoning, fights, sexual assault and regret, according to a press release from UCI’s Health Education Center.

Thomas Parham, the assistant vice chancellor of Counseling and Health Services at UCI, welcomed the crowd at the meeting. He spoke about why he was interested in the program and why he felt alcohol abuse was such a huge problem among young adults.

“I have known several friends who have gone through alcohol problems. I also have been a victim of a drunk driver and had to receive extensive spinal surgery,” he said. “I believe the main factor when dealing with students with substance abuse problems is to remember that they are dealing with enormous peer pressure when it comes to the consumption of alcohol.”

Barbara Ryan, a senior advisor at the Center for College Health and Safety, outlined various research methods and stories from the field during the meeting.

The research is used by the group to help pinpoint effective ways to make students become more aware of the alcohol-related problems on campuses. Various strategies include brief, personal interventions at student health centers, increased enforcement of minimum-age drinking laws, campaigns that correct misconceptions students have about drinking and the banning of alcohol on campus, Ryan said.

“Each year, 1,400 college students between the ages of 18 and 24 years old die from alcohol-related unintentional injuries, including motor vehicle crashes, while 500,000 students between the ages of 18 and 24 years old are unintentionally injured under the influence of alcohol,” Ryan said.

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