In spring 2018, some University of Iowa Fraternity and Sorority Life (FSL) members had the chance to take part in a new evidence-based training program tailored to college students that goes beyond alcohol information.
The Alcohol Skills Training Program (ASTP), piloted by Student Health & Wellness staff, encourages students to reflect on their own relationship with alcohol and other drugs as well as determine strategies to promote positive culture change.
“Group discussion is centered on perceptions versus reality of use on campus and how each person can ultimately influence behavior through small adjustments,” says Steph Beecher, senior behavioral health consultant for Student Health & Wellness. “As a group, students develop ways to change the message around alcohol that increases visibility of light or non-drinking peers and takes the focus off of drinking.”
Twelve ASTP sessions were implemented in the spring, and a total of 377 FSL students were trained. Participants completed a survey during the training and were emailed a follow-up survey six weeks later. Students reported significant reductions in days spent drinking and average number of drinks, with the average number of days drinking in the last month dropping from 5.4 days to 3.4 days and the typical number of drinks from 4.7 to 4.0 drinks. 95
percent of students reported implementing strategies to help normalize low-risk drinking in the FSL community after the training.
“There are alternatives other than drinking alcohol to ‘have fun.’ I support those who choose to defeat social norms (on this campus) by choosing not to participate. I support others by helping them understand they are not missing out on anything, and that they are making better decisions by not doing so,” says one participant.
Another participant says, “This training gave me a lot of perspective on other people's drinking habits and how I can help them drink responsibly if they choose to drink. I also thought the environment during the training was very inclusive and understanding—ASTP helped each of us feel comfortable discussing these topics and open to learning about how to be more responsible.”
“We believe in a campus where students can openly discuss and learn from wellness staff and each other. ASTP creates that space,” says Beecher. “Student Health & Wellness looks forward to continuing ASTP and connecting with more FSL students to continue creating a safer environment and positive health behaviors.”As a result of the pilot run of ASTP, the recommendation from campus partners is to train all Fraternity and Sorority Life members by spring 2021.
2018 Year In Review
This article is part of the 2018 Year in Review, which highlights some of the Division of Student Life's accomplishments from the previous academic year.