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Alcohol-Free Options

Many students, especially those attending residential colleges, have few adult responsibilities and a great deal of unstructured free time. Often there are too few social options that do not include alcohol and other drugs. In many instances, the opportunity to engage in alcohol-free activities, such as excursions and volunteer opportunities, requires advanced notice and planning.

Campuses should aim to provide a range of social, recreational, extra-curricular, and vocational or volunteer options that do not include alcohol and other drugs. While some activities necessitate advanced planning by participants, an effort should be made to provide options that are likely to resonate with the spontaneous nature of a studentís social life. Late night gym hours, campus cafes, and other alcohol-free social settings would serve this purpose. Ideally, students should have a range of activities that appeal to the diversity of their interests and talents from which to choose.

Once events and activities have been established, they should be publicized and promoted to students through a variety of channels to ensure studentsí awareness of these options. In our increasingly digital environments, promotions may include web-based announcements, electronic newsletters, and screen savers.

Service Learning, Volunteer, and Community Service Work
There is evidence to suggest that when students engage in service learning, volunteer, or community service work, they are at lower risk for substance abuse. Time spent in these activities represents a lost opportunity for using alcohol and other drugs, and may add meaning to studentsí college learning experience. These activities may also draw students away from destructive behaviors and unhealthy decisions. Campus administrators and faculty should work to increase these opportunities and incorporate them into curricula and other academic and recreational programs. Similar to other alcohol-free events, these opportunities should be promoted to increase student awareness and interest. Some campuses may consider requiring community service work and service learning as part of the curriculum.

An additional benefit of increased student participation in such activities may be improved town/gown relations as students work to meet community needs. Moreover, the presence of responsible students contributing to the community serves to counteract the behavior of irresponsible students that many communities and neighborhoods grow to resent.

Non-Alcoholic Beverage Service
Alcohol-free options can also be extended to events that are already embedded in campus life. Promotion and availability of nonalcoholic beverages at events can help transform events characterized by alcohol use. Such promotion also helps establish a healthier norm for the events.

Examples of Specific Strategies

  • Create and promote new alcohol-free events and activities
  • Open a student center, coffeehouse, or other alcohol-free setting
  • Expand gym and student center hours to accommodate late night use
  • Create and publicize student service learning or volunteer opportunities
  • Require community service work as part of the academic curriculum
  • Promote consumption of nonalcoholic beverages at campus events


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