Challenging College Alcohol Abuse


An Effective Practice


Challenging College Alcohol Abuse (CCAA) is a social norms and environmental management program aimed at reducing high-risk drinking and related negative consequences among college students (18 to 24 years old). The intervention was developed at the University of Arizona based on work previously done at Northern Illinois University. CCAA uses a campus-based media campaign and other strategies to address misperceptions about alcohol and make the campus environment less conducive to drinking. Studies have shown that college students tend to perceive their peers' level of drinking to be higher than it actually is, which in turn influences their own drinking behavior. CCAA's media campaign addresses these misperceptions by (1) communicating norms using data from surveys conducted at the university, (2) educating students on less-known or less-understood facts related to alcohol, and (3) offering an opportunity to change the "public conversation" around alcohol use among students, staff, and the local community. Advertisements and articles in the school newspaper, press releases, campus displays, and other media are used to communicate factual information about alcohol and drugs and related topics such as health and wellness, sexual assault, and sexually transmitted diseases. CCAA provides small grants to fund and promote non-alcohol social events that compete with traditional drinking occasions. Some media coverage is targeted to higher-risk groups such as fraternity and sorority chapters, freshmen, women, and students living in residence halls. CCAA also includes components aimed at faculty and staff, parents, and the local community, such as encouraging increased restrictions and monitoring of on-campus and off-campus alcohol use.

Goal / Mission

The goal of this program is to reduce the negative impact of alcohol abuse on campus life by correcting students' perceptions about alcohol use and by making the campus less conducive to drinking.

Results / Accomplishments

CCAA was first implemented at the University of Arizona in 1994. It has been continually implemented, evaluated, and refined each year since then, and as of 2007 continues to be an active component of the university's Campus Health Service. Results of the program include the following:

Over 3 years of implementing CCAA at the university (1995 to 1998), the percentage of surveyed freshmen who reported having five or more drinks per occasion at least once in the last 2 weeks decreased from 43% to 31% (p < .01). Over the same time period, the percentage of surveyed freshmen who reported using alcohol three or more times per week in the past year decreased from 22% to 17% (p < .05). The study also found positive changes in students' attitudes and beliefs about alcohol and a decrease in negative consequences of alcohol abuse such as getting in fights, getting in trouble with campus police, and sexual incidents.

About this Promising Practice

Primary Contact
Peggy Glider, Ph.D.
University of Arizona, Campus Health Service
1224 E. Lowell Street
Tucson, AZ 85721-0095
(520) 621-5973
Health / Substance Abuse
Health / Prevention & Safety
Public Safety / Crime & Crime Prevention
Health Promotion and Preventive Services; University of Arizona
SAMHSA's National Registry of Evidence-Based Programs and Practices (NREPP)
Date of publication
Jan 2007
Date of implementation
Geographic Type
Tucson, AZ
For more details
Target Audience

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