Underage drinking is dangerous, not only because of the risks associated with acute impairment, but also because of the threat to long-term development.
At the University of Kentucky (UK), the Office of Substance Education and Responsibility encourages our students to be individuals. Despite societal expectations of “typical” college student behavior, we want to encourage our students to make up their own minds when it comes to their decision to drink.
Based on this attitude, we began the “UK SWAgger” campaign. This campaign encourages students to develop their own individual “swagger” by setting their own goals and using the best, safest, and most responsible strategies in order to achieve them, rather than adhering to “pack mentality”. Having swagger is the ability to uphold values when making decisions.
Through our programming, we place an emphasis on encouraging safe and responsible behavior for our students when it comes to alcohol, recognizing that the two words are not necessarily interchangeable. Our first mission is to educate students about “safety” and “responsibility”.
Our AlcoholEdu data also found that 75% of our incoming freshmen have experience drinking alcohol within the year before arriving at UK. We therefore realized the need for additional alcohol education programs in the surrounding Lexington schools. Each school’s students have different needs relative to alcohol and other drug programming. With this in mind, we cater our programming to each school as well as each individual student. Knowledge of substance use varies among youth, so to connect with students we encourage them to write down and reflect on their values. Regardless of background knowledge and age, every student can relate to the importance of values. The UK Student Wellness Ambassadors (SWA) tells young people that their choices regarding alcohol correlate to their values and beliefs. We believe this early approach is key to reducing high-risk drinking before it starts.
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Youth & Alcohol
Researchers in Scotland find that drinking is an important element of the young adult social experience. Group settings can make binge-drinking seem normal and like a rite of passage. Young adult drinking patterns are also influenced by socio-economic factors.